Shortage of priests? Bring it on

It’s sad that many areas are experiencing a shortage of priests. Churches are being closed and parishes are merged. Priests are overworked and burnt out.  Many congregations have to settle for a Liturgy of the Word instead of the Mass. It’s not an easy situation.

Yet, God is always capable of bringing good out of suffering.

I believe that the current shortage will bring forth a renaissance in the priesthood unlike anything we’ve seen in centuries.  In the West, the priesthood is so distant from the values disseminated through our culture that very few men are choosing to become priests. In such a context, the brave men that do get ordained tend to display heroic virtue and a very deep faith.  They may be fewer in number than in generations past, but they’re top-notch quality.

While reverence for the priesthood is a great thing, I think we took it a little too far in the past.  Throughout the first half of the 20th century, becoming a priest was an “in” thing to do. It was socially prestigious. It earned you instant glory and respect almost everywhere.

I’m afraid that was a trap that drew many men into the priesthood who had no business being there. We don’t want hipsters, ladder-climbers and revolutionaries in the priesthood.  We need men of deep sanctity and humility. We’re getting a higher percentage of such men today, which bodes well for the robustness of the Church. Very well indeed.

It turns out I’m in good company in thinking this way.  Check out the quote below from Pope Benedict XIV, who was pope during part of the 18th century (thanks to Suzanne at the Catholic Breadbox for this quote):

It would certainly be better to have fewer ministers if they be upright, suitable and useful, than many who are likely to accomplish nothing at all for the building up of the body of Christ, which is the Church.

–Pope Benedict XIV, Ubi Primum


I don’t think I’m going out on a limb in saying that most of the dissenting clergy and priest-predators that have plagued the Church and the world for the last 50 years were drawn to the priesthood for the wrong reasons. I don’t expect we’ll have any of those types left 50 years from now. We may have to drive a bit farther to get to Mass, but it will be worth it.

Let the good times roll.

3 thoughts on “Shortage of priests? Bring it on

  1. However, you have to admit that the shortage is troubling and reduces many things for the priests (e.g. access to reconciliation, invested time in parish activities) so much that they have to hire selfish and liberal laypeople (who themselves fall victim to erronerous 60’s-70’s liberal theology) to fill the needed areas and then they think they rule the parish.

    But more to the issue, what is with the priest shortage in the first place? A number of things could be behind this:
    minor: If I become a common Latin rite, I have to give up marriage and sex.

    minor (or possibly major specifically to the Catholic Church): Hmmmm, priests, teachers, and bishops not preaching/teaching the hardcore values of our faith and watering it down to “sunshine Jesus” garbage. People aren’t stupid and know if you don’t practice what you preach, why should I care about this “garbage”?

    minor to major in recent times depending on the person: The church sex scandals, blown out of proportion by the sick left-wing media.

    Major: The culutre is anti public religion. It’s a private thing. However most men see that as a thing to hate. So be a-religious.

    Major: In developed countries, it often takes a lot of income (2-parent often) to have a decent or high standard of living. The priesthood doesn’t pay out $50K-100K CDN per year to let you live that lifestyle. This can also point to a certain element of greed and selfishness inherent in the culture.

    Major: CONTRACEPTION!!! Fewer kids = fewer people in the population who could be possible candidates by sheer numbers alone.

  2. You are forgetting a very important point that Professor Tom Landers and I encountered in 2008 uniting concerned citizen’s to tell their MP’s to close the loophole in Canadian Law; that permits the legal sexual exploitation of Canadian children. Many of these were agnostics former Christians from both the Catholic and Protestant were driven driven out by Nicolaitans. Tom was amazing at social networking. Some agnostic former Catholic and Protestant professors helped us, as well as Social Conservative volunteers and websites. These former Christians were driven out by Nicolaitans and believed that there were too few real Christians left in the world. They stood up to the morbid leaders, and their followers told them in unison to repent or hell awaits, because the Church Fathers said that there was no authority above a Bishop but God. Both Catholic and Protestants study the Church Father’s in seminary and most believe them completely, even the Fathers who were pagan priests. Tom knew the languages of scripture ,because in his youth the good universities would not let one in without Latin. He also taught in Europe and could teach and read Greek, and knew languages very well. He could break down sermons to their original meanings and what the names of Old Testament people meant. Most Priests did not know what he was talking about, though many real ones helped us. Uniting people with love and common goals is extremely important. There is a problem with what passes as and the majority see as Christianity right now. I believe if we can get together and fix our Laws politically, and prove who we really belong to our counties worldview may follow.

  3. Interesting post.

    I have to respond to these comments by saying that I don’t think Young Canadian RC Catholic male, or in whatever order his ID is, I don’t think he has his finger very close to the Church’s pulse, as I’ve experienced it in Western Canada. I would be interested in further discussing these issues with him (perhaps you could pass along to him my email…).

    And Gary’s Gary.

    I’m a person discerning the priesthood. I attend a Seminary in Western Canada. People join the Seminary for all sorts of reasons. We get hipsters, ladder-climbers and revolutionaries. I don’t remember what I was when I joined. I remember why I was attracted to the priesthood, but I don’t know how someone who may have been in Seminary for 4 or 5 years, might have viewed me.

    That’s okay though Steve, because what formation is about is opening yourself to the way in which God is working in your life, and formation can be 5 to 8 years. People change in that time. It’s usually the ones that don’t who don’t last.

    You have to be humble yes, and you have to want to be holy. And you have to work hard to be these things. If it seems like there’s a shortage, there probably is. But my diocese (Winnipeg) has seven seminarians, which may not seem like a lot, but its more than it had 5 years ago.

    And I realize you weren’t slagging the celebration of the Word, but I have heard other people do so (even though the Church presents it to the faithful). Jesus still presents himself to persons in the Eucharist (if this celebration includes the Eucharist….yes it’s not a Mass…), and a person, in a different way, still encounters him in the Word proclaimed.

    Anyways, just some thoughts.

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