The Question: When I was young, my parish, and every other parish I knew about, was served by two priests. Now I understand that it is common that a parish has only one priest and some only have a deacon to look after the spiritual needs of the Catholic faithful. How can this be? I have also read that the number of Catholics in America is growing. Why aren't there enough priests?
The Response: It is no secret that, in America at least, the number of Catholic priests has been declining for some time. There are a number of reasons for the decline, among them is the unwillingness of parents to encourage their children to become priests or nuns. This becomes evident when one considers the results of a Cara report sponsored by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops;
One of the factors certainly contributing to the resistance of Catholic parents to support their children’s interest in pursuing a vocation to the priesthood or religious life must involve the growing perception that such vocations involve living as a homosexual.
Some who reject the information provided by Cozzens may be surprised to learn that he is an ordained priest who was Vicar of Priests for the Cleveland Diocese for more than six years. Formerly President-Rector and Professor of Pastoral Theology at Saint Mary Seminary and Graduate School of Theology in Clevelan, he currently is Writer-in-Residence at John Carrol University He is editor of the best-selling The Spirituality of the Diocesan Priest (The Liturgical Press, 1997) and a number of other books dealing with the priesthood and the Catholic Church. He also is an associate editor of Emmanuel magazine.
Another reason for the decline in the number of Catholic priests, especially priests in pastoral posts, has to do with the number of parish priests who have been defrocked or had their faculties removed or restricted as a consequence of having acted as sexual predators of those over whom they exercised pastoral authority. The Boston Archdiocese provided fertile hunting grounds for a number of priests who violated their promises of celibacy with boys and adolescents. As I was writing this paper (2002), district attorneys in the five Massachusetts counties served by the Boston Archdiocese were working on cases involving 80 priests from that archdiocese.
The Catholic Church considers the failure to obey so many of its precepts and teachings to be mortal sins that disqualify lay Catholics from receiving the sacraments or, if unconfessed before dying, deny access to the Beatific Vision. On the other hand, when her priests violate the commandments of God, they are not disqualified from receiving or celebrating those same sacraments. It is clear that, within Catholicism, there is one law for priests and another for the laity.
|Home | More Questions | Catholic Stuff | PTG Forum
(C) 1991-2010 Ron Loeffler