Priestly ordinations are on the rise in the US, having reached a 20-year high. That’s certainly good news. But here’s the kicker: dioceses with more faithful and outspoken bishops fare much better.
What explains the trend? Nearly 20 years ago, Archbishop Elden Curtiss, then leader of the Omaha, Neb., diocese, suggested that when dioceses are unambiguous and allow a minimum of dissent about the male, celibate priesthood, more candidates answer the call to the priesthood. Our preliminary research on the correlates of priestly ordinations reveals that the dioceses with the largest numbers of new priests are led by courageous bishops with faithful and inspirational vocations offices.
I’ve always suspected that this would be the case, but it’s nice to see someone backing it up with data.
The pattern makes perfect sense to me. On a natural level, men respond to real life examples of heroic and inspiring behaviour. On a spiritual level, a faithful bishop will draw down more grace on his diocese then a wishy washy one. Besides, why would the Holy Spirit inspire men to enlist in corrupt seminaries led by ladder climbing professional Catholics?
Bishops should take notice : if you want more vocations, maybe you need to start acting more like a courageous Apostle than a diocesan administrator.