It is a common notion that the number of priests has plummeted in this country. Many speak of the halcyon days when there were four and five priests per parish, and the seminaries were packed. And while some of these memories are accurate, they are drawn from a time in this country that was very brief.

The fact is, the number of priests per parish spiked sharply after 1950 and has now leveled back to the levels of 1950 and before.

Note the graph at the upper right from the Center for Research in the Apostolate (CARA). It depicts the number of priests per parish. In 1950 there was an average of one priest per parish. Last year there was an average of one priest per parish. Welcome to 1950.

Mark Gray, writing at the CARA blog says:

There was about one active diocesan priest per parish then as there is now. The late 1950s into the 1970s represent an exceptional period in American history when there were significantly more active diocesan priests available than there were parishes. Age and mortality has and continues to diminish the size of the diocesan clergy population. Although ordinations have remained stable for decades, these are not sufficient to make up for the number of priests lost each year to retirement or death. [1]

Frankly, even in the glory days, America did not produce the number of priests we need to fill our needs. Back in the 1950s through the 1970s a tremendous number of FBI (foreign born Irish) priests were enlisted to meet American needs. My own diocese had a large number of them brought in, beginning in the 1950s.

Many ethnic groups in the Urban North also brought large numbers of priests to serve them from overseas. Today there are many dioceses that rely on Nigeria and other booming Catholic countries to supply extra priests.

It is true, most American Seminaries were bursting at the seams especially after World War II. But that boom would seem to be as short as it was impressive. Here on the East Coast, Roland Park in Baltimore and St. Charles Borromeo in Philadelphia had more than 500 seminarians in mammoth buildings that looked like Versailles as you drove up.

But as the graph shows, the spike was sudden and has settled back to the more common US experience of about one priest per parish. Again, according to the CARA study:

Nearly one in five U.S. parishes do not have a resident priest pastor. Seven in ten have a diocesan priest serving in this capacity and religious priests serve as resident pastors in 11% of parishes. In 17% of parishes a priest is serving as a non-resident pastor…in 2.5% of all parishes, due to a shortage of priests, a deacon or lay person is entrusted with the pastoral care of a parish…[who]….must still do their best to arrange for priests to be available for Masses and other sacraments.

Priests cannot be in two places at once and there are only so many hours in a Sunday. We have a good understanding of how many parishes there are in the United States and how many priests are available. The map below (click for full size) shows the number of active diocesan priests subtracted from number of parishes in each diocese…. In 60% of dioceses, those marked in yellow and red, there is no surplus of diocesan priests active in ministry relative to the number of parishes in the diocese. The green areas on the map have more active diocesan priests than parishes. [2]

There is more that can be read at the CARA blog that analyzes these numbers more deeply. But data like this reminds us that our knowledge of history is at time inaccurate since it is based on a rather narrow sliver of our own experience. That the Catholic Church in America grew enormously in the first half of the 20th century is indisputable. This was due to large waves of immigrants from Catholic Countries in Europe that were in one crisis after another. But even at the center point of that remarkable period of Catholic growth, the number of priests per parish was not so high as we remember, and even after it spiked (nearly doubled) between 1950 and 1960, it did not last, and a long leveling back to our current numbers has restored us to the mid century mark.

And yet, 1950, would be a year most Catholics think of being a high water mark. It was not, at least in terms of the number of priests per parish. Yes, welcome to 1950.

90 Responses

  1. I have to say as prelude to the comments that follow, I am surprised at the fire storm I seem to have created! Many seem to presume I am making light of the current decline by citing them. I am not and have blogged too much of the need for reform and evangelization for people to conclude this. Hence I must conclude that the commenters who conclude this about me either don’t read here often, don’t know me, or are just doing a knee-jerk reaction that is anxious of any data that doesn’t support some narrative they have.

    My real point here in quoting the stats is just that I find them interesting and that they provide a perspective. As I state in the article, the first half of the 20th century was a period of explosive growth for the Church. But even in 1950 the number of priests overall was not as high as many of us remember. There are probably a lot of reasons for this, including the number of ethnic parishes, and the degree of Catholics in rural areas, etc. Clearly after 1950 the number spiked, almost doubling in number by 1960. And then began a steady decline.

    That is all. I surely do not “celebrate” or “excuse” the decline as some of the commentors who follow suggest I do. That is crazy. I want the Church to keep growing and burst at the seams. However we do well to keep perspective, lest we lose heart, that the Church has had spikes and declines, but God is with us and the Church is indefectible. We need to work, but we need to trust God. There are many causes for the decline. Doing the “blame game” doesn’t help that much, especially in the complicated landscape of modern “culture” But we’ve got God and that ain’t bad odds!

    Perhaps all of us try to be a little more encouraging than blaming. We’re on the same team and our internal bickering and blaming takes our eye of the ball and our opponent, the devil gets yardage. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the higher realms.(Eph 6:12)

    • Lee says:

      Stats should also take into consideration the populations during those time periods, otherwise it gives an even more skewed view of the facts. Also, why were so many homosexuals attracted to the Church post Vatican 2. Did the council give a more emasculating flavour say, to the Church. What can we do, besides bring back the Mass of the Saints to bring back the real men to the Church like Cardinal Burke.

      • Don says:

        I don’t have statistics, but it seems obvious that the priesthood was a magnet for men who felt they had no other place in society because they were gay. Either a) they thought they could solve their “problem” by committing to a life of celibacy and service of God; or b) saw an opportunity to share their lives (and secretly their beds) with people who shared their own sexual orientation. As it became obvious to everyone with eyes that the seminaries and priesthood were filled with same-sex attracted men, straight men were discouraged from pursuing the priesthood; taking on a life of celibacy would be hard enough without also having all your relatives and friends presume you must be gay. All of this equates to a disaster for vocations and far fewer priests (not to mention the scandal of homosexual priests’ abuse of minors). With a growing population and proliferating parishes, this equals a major priest shortage.

    • J. R. P. says:

      I feel like that graph isn’t sufficiently revealing: didn’t we have a pretty significant expansion of the number of parishes during the growth period from the 30s to the 70s, and aren’t there notably fewer parishes post 2000 than there were at that peak in 1960-1970?

      • Dan says:

        Not quite, during the period of the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, many people left the cities to the suburbs. Resulting in new Churches being built. Same with small towns or areas that were just open, suddenly having population booms. 20 years ago I was stationed at Fort Meade. You could go from Fort Meade to Bowie and there was nothing there apart from a few businesses between 3, a few pockets of communities, and an intersection with two gas stations and a 7-11. Those gas stations are still there, along with the 7-11 and a “Downtown Mall,” tons of homes, and businesses stretching all the way to Nice Bridge. The parishes in Millersville, Odenton, and Fort Meade grew and more than one had to have building projects. Not sure about new Churches being built from Bowie to Nice Bridge as that falls under DC.

    • Don says:

      I have wondered for some time whether much of the priest-shortage problem could be solved by consolidating parishes and dramatically expanding the permanent diaconate. I know there is consolidation going on in the Northeast due to financial struggles, but that doesn’t seem to be the issue everywhere. For example, where I live in the diocese of Dallas there are at least 50 seaparate parishes, I think. Just thinking out loud, what if these were consolidated into 20 parishes, each much larger and with 3-4 priests instead of two. Existing (often smallish, dated and dumpy 1960’s style) church buildings could be sold and new, larger and much more impressive churches could be constructed. A greater critical mass of parishioners could improve everything – from the quality of the choirs to the schools to lay organizations. A dramatically expanded diaconate could provide many of the functions that priests now find themselves required to handle personally. But the point would be, without increasing the number of priests, you could go from 2 to 4 priests per parish and from 2-3 to 8+ deacons per parish – obviously serving a larger congregation of parishioners but taking advantage of economies of scale, and freeing up some priests for parishes elsewhere that don’t have one.

      • Jim says:

        Don

        I certainly appreciate your desire to see the diaconate as a permanent ministry grow, the diaconate is NOT a substitute for a priest. Although it is true deacons and priest can “do” some of he same things, the reestablishment of the diaconate as a permanent ministry in the Roman church is not intended to “make up for” a shortage of priests.

        Space prevents me from offering a deeper response. In short, the diaconate has always been a part of the church of the east. The priest an the deacon SHARE in the ordering of the bishop. The priest is ordained to sacrifice, while the deacon is ordained to service. Neither is less than the other and both subsist in the person of the bishop.

        Having said that, a deacon can certainly allow a priest the opportunity to have additional time for whatever needs present themselves.

        At this point in time, deacons can NOT celebrate anointing (last rites as many call it). There are many bishops who would like to see this changed. However, at this time, our theology of anointing includes absolution as in the sacrament of reconciliation. My own bishop leans toward a theology like baptism for anointing.

        In any event, although they are figures of Christ, both the diaconate and the priesthood are separate spiritualities linked to the bishop.

    • John says:

      I think that if you compared the number of Catholics that actually attend mass on a weekly basis, we might have more priests per parishioner than at any time shown on your graph. I looked up some Catholic statistics online and found that in 1965 (the high point for priests) there were 45.6 million Catholics, of which 65% attended mass weekly, and 58,632 priests (secular and religious combined) to serve them–which comes out to 1 priest for every 505 practicing Catholics. While in 2012 (today) there are 66.3 million Catholics, of which 24% attend mass weekly, and we have 38,964 priests (secular and religious combined) to serve us–which comes out to one priest for every 408 practicing Catholics. We actually have 25% more priests today percentage wise to serve the needs of practicing Catholics.

  2. J. Keltgen says:

    The problem the 11% are having is many can’t understand the heavy African accents. That diminishes the understanding of the mass not to mention the cultural problems that may occur between lay volunteers and priests who aren’t familiar with our roles. It is a shame but we have had to change parishes after 20 years as we couldn’t understand them after a year of trying…Pray for more American Priests

    • Yes, there is also the possibility that bishops should insist that foreign born priests with heavy accents work with a language coach. It is possible to ameliorate heavy accents.

      • Don says:

        We have had a succesion of priests with heavy accents in our parish. German, Indian, African, Filipino, etc. I admit it can be a bit demoralizing having to strain or try to read lips to understand the homily. Unfortunately, a lot of people in our parish (thinking the Mass is primarily about they “get” out of it) just have just started going to different parishes where they can better understand the priests. We have stuck it out, figuring the priests need our support and that the Mass is mostly about worshiping God.

        • Francis says:

          The missal is a wonderful way to follow along with the prayers being said, it will not only help you to quickly learn to understand the accent, but will help you focus on the prayers being said thus the VatII emphasis on participation in the liturgy is also achieved.

    • Jim says:

      Since we know that the holy Sacrifice of the Mass is the consumption of the Substance of God.

      The holy Mass is can never be understood nor should one think they are being taught something that needs to be understood. A shorter way of saying this truth, “The holy Mass is not didactic.” If the holy Mass were didactic then deaf, mute, blind, paralyzed, brain damaged, and folks with other attenuated capacities, such as newly conceived and unborn children as well as infants, et cetra would receive less effective grace from the holy Mass. A shorter way of saying this truth, “God does not need you. He is Love Unconditional.”

      I say give me a priest whose language I cannot understand, speaking in an approved translation of texts I cannot understand. And, this is why I go with the Spanish and Brazilian and all the other languages of the swarthy church basement Catholics (aka. the non-whites) we keep segregated from our lily white peachy children. Either that or you can give me Latin, where we all pray together.

    • Steve M says:

      I experienced the most profound Confession of my life with an African priest with a very heavy accent. This man is on fire with the Holy Spirit. Anyone in that parish that leaves because they are having trouble with his accent are missing out on profound Grace. This man was also so worried that I would have trouble understanding him that it made me feel concerned that he would be hindered in his mission to bring souls to Heaven. Having experienced many groovy American priests and many very good American priests I pray for priests and religious from anywhere God can inspire them. Maybe this is His way of trying to make us aware of all of the gifts we have in the US and presenting us a good example of sacrifice. Imagine being asked to move to another country where you don’t speak the language well and you are asked to minister to souls.

    • Maria says:

      Which is precisely why Mass in Latin is so helpful. Accents don’t matter! Ok, one could also read one’s missal for the English as well, so I’m not sure how this is a problem?

    • Annette Strachan says:

      We pray they preach the Gospel with purity and the spirit of truth.

    • Jim says:

      J. Keltgen

      It is a bit ironic that you speak to an accent and understanding (and I am NOT criticizing you).

      How many folks are there who are clamoring for a return to the Mass of Trent? How many of them are fluent in Latin!

      Ah. I guess that’s why the world is as diverse as it is.

  3. Jennifer says:

    That second video was eerily haunting. And beautiful, too. :)

  4. [...] Welcome to 1950! A Surprising Statistic About the Number of Priests per parish [...]

  5. Servus Fidelis says:

    Interesting statistics, Msgr. though it would be interesting to see the statistics plotted against the population growth of this country. Looking at the data from their web page you also see a precipitous drop in the religious, most notably in the women religious. So it may be that what we remember from the 50’s was accurate when looking at the number of missionary churches in the US back then with only 1 priest and the ones in the metropolitan areas who had schools and nuns teaching and sometimes multiple priests assigned. Just thinking out loud because my memory is of a much stronger Catholic presence in the late 50’s to early 60’s.

  6. Matthew says:

    This study speaks of priests per parish. I wonder if the numbers would be different if the analysis was based on the number of priest per thousand Catholics. Were parishes bigger, smaller or the same number of families as today?

    • Some of your question is dealt with in the article at CARA. There were more parishes in 1950, especially in ethnic areas. Also, there were more rural areas than today. So the mix is different. But the point remains the same that prior to 1951 many parishes had no resident priest.

      • Fr. AH says:

        Yes, the reader is correct. Msgr., it has to do with how you phrased it. The areas in red and yellow do indeed have deficiencies, but it should read as the number of parishes subtracted from te number of priests (I.e. priests minus parishes). That would lead to a negative number, not the other way around.

  7. Rick says:

    Here is some more historical perspective from the book After Asceticism (p24-25) that looks at seminary enrollment back to 1913!
    “From 1913 to the peak enrollment in 1966, seminary enrollment increased nearly seven-fold, from 6100 to over 48000—an average increase of nearly 800 students each year, or 1.6 percent per year relative to the high water mark. These numbers include both major seminaries and minor (high school) seminaries (the tallies are taken from the US Catholic Directory for each year noted in Figure 4.) The increase in the total number of ordained priests was comparable. Across the first six decades of the twentieth century in the US, there was only one significant dip in seminary enrollment and this was during the Great Depression which was followed by a leveling off during World War II. However, by 1968, a mere two years after the peak, US seminary enrollment had declined an astounding 17 percent, and in the following four years, enrollments had declined another 30 percent. A veritable wildfire had swept through the seminaries. Only eight years from the peak, enrollments had declined 60 percent from the high point. But the decline did not subside even by the mid-1970s. From 1974 to 1985, the enrollment declined to just over 11,000, making for 77 percent decline in 18 years, yielding an enrollment level not seen since 1925.”

    • Yes, they were really boom years in the first half of the 20th Century. We were a huge immigrant Church. And then as you point out the bottom fell out starting about 1960 and picking up pace. I would see the data as reflective of the cultural revolution that swept the West. Mass attendance has fallen just as steeply.

  8. Plain Catholic says:

    A retired priest once told me that many military coming out of WWII entered seminary and so that 1950 boost in numbers may be attributed to that. Just a thought there.

  9. Mark Jaworowski says:

    This article is incomplete because it ignores (perhaps conveniently) what was happening prior to 1950. There was something back then called WW2 which may have interfered in the lives of millions of men, thousands of whom perhaps were called to be priests. To use 1950 as a baseline for anything is bound to raise questions. That was the year the US produced 1/2 of the world’s GDP because our competitors were still recovering from WW2 and China was in the midst of a communist revolution.

    • Lighten up man, no one is engaging in “convenience” Try to be less cynical. There are many factors related to the data. That is admitted in my article and in the CARA article. the date prior to 1950 in unremarkable, and reflects the data of ca 1950. 1950 is not being used as a baseline in the data except in my catchy title.The spike took place through the 1950s and has settled back.

      But as for you, stop ascribing personally what is not meant personally. There is no reason for your irritation and ascribing of bad motive.

  10. Marie Teresa says:

    Our pastor, ordained just 7 years ago, said that with one priest for our parish of 50 families, he can celebrate Mass only once during the week. He insists the days of daily Mass are gone.

    • Most priests celebrate Mass every Day.

    • LA says:

      Marie Teresa,

      Just to be sure we understand what you’re saying: I’m guessing that he’s assigned to more than that one parish? Does he have many parishes to which he has to minister? Is your parish among the smaller to which he’s assigned?

      To Msgr Pope’s point: I’m guessing that he’s not saying “the days of *my celebration* of daily Mass are gone”, but rather, “the days *of this small parish’s* daily Mass are gone”…? That is, if there are other parishes to which he ministers, he says daily Mass elsewhere?

      • Marie Teresa says:

        He’s assigned to two parishes and a chapel. A total of 50 families at all three. He offers Mass on Wednesday at the parish where he resides, an hour drive from either of the other two churches. There are no other weekday Masses at any of his churches. Looking at the schedules of other parishes, this schedule seems to be the norm in our diocese.
        He says that to maintain his sanity he must protect his time off which is from Sunday afternoon through Monday evening and from Friday morning through Saturday afternoon.

  11. Bill Russell says:

    Given the larger size of average families decades ago, is it not possible that the percentage of young men entering the priesthood was in fact smaller than today? – Yet is also is a fact that the large seminaries (such as Roland Park mentioned in the article,as well as St.Joseph’s in Yonkers and numerous others, were built and were filled long before the “spike” after WW II. )

  12. J says:

    I taught seminarians in the ADW for four years, and hope to teach seminarians again in the near future. The present (and the future) is bright, with a lot of good young priests studying Latin these days.

  13. Brian says:

    I don’t think CARA is interpreting their map correctly. Or perhaps I’m just confused. If you take the number of parishes and subtract the number of active priests, a positive number means there are more parishes than priests,not less. I think the colors mean just the opposite of CARA’s explanation. This really changes the look of the country in terms of numbers. Please explain if I’m wrong.

    The above notwithstanding, interesting article, Monsignor.

  14. Rick12 says:

    I think this is an interesting stat but I think the number of priests per 1000 is a better number. We also need to look at the number of religous both women and men. To me the most affective form of the Church are neighborhood parishes, the best model I can tell is from Europe, Eastern US and SW US before Vatican II. Doing a study of missions in the SW during the Spanish colonization period is fascinating. You have whole communities growing out from around the mission which is the center of the town. (Messilla, Albaqueque, Santa Fe, Las Cruces). The center of a US city is the Courthouse not a Church. When you have a whole community at the center of which is the Church and its local shepherd. The best ratio is probably under a 1000 per priest for a priest to be able to manage his flock. The old rite seams to generate more vocations and I think it has alot to do with having all male altar servers and having them learn and progress through an altar server society. Small tight nit communities with a strong faithful priest that offer frequent confessions, holy hours, and traditional teaching where you see large families open to life are where I think vocations come from. The mega parishs we see so often today are a reflectiion of the shortage of vocations and will more than likely not solve the problem.

    • LA says:

      “number of priests per 1000″ *what*, exactly? 1000 baptized Catholics? 1000 weekly Mass-attendees? There’s a big difference between having one priest for 1000 people on the books (of which only 100 are active), and one priest for 1000 active Catholics…

  15. Vincent Finnegan says:

    The article is interesting but doesn’t address why the same flood of priests is no longer streaming into seminaries in both America and worldwide. Why don’t young men today want to give their lives to the priesthood? Could this enormous loss of clergy be yet another “fruit” of Vatican ll or perhaps its the diminishing of priests to what today is seen as simply a man who sits in a chair at mass and watches non-clergy perform what should be holy actions on the altar or maybe its the endless Church related homosexual sex scandals and embezzlement stories. Surely these events have not increased the willingness of young men to enter an enormously demanding vocation which appears currently to be so empty and tragically so often deviate. The 1950s were a magnificent gift of faith for the Church and its members and no excuses can mask the vast collapse of the Church which is something so necessary for salvation. The mindless attempt to make the Church like the world has succeeded and in the process individuals, families and even nations have lost the faith. Remaining on this path can only lead to a greater and faster collapse of the Faith and society.

    • No excuses are being presented. Why do you presume that they are? I suspect the plummet is more related to culture than VC II. Most people born after 1965 never knew the pre-concilar Church and VC II argument becomes increasingly unintelligible as the years tick by. I would also beware calling the 1950s Church “a gift,” since the kids raised under that era and the seminarians in that pipeline were the ones who threw the revolution and who left the Church in droves. There was something already underway long before 1965. And in fact in Europe the Church had tanked long before. If you want to see a chilling harbinger of things to come look at 8:20 in the second video!

      I think the best we can say is that the 1950s were a high water mark for our numbers here in a small part of the Church called America.

      I like you regret the loss of the halcyon days but there are many reasons for the demise and we do well to recall that the American experience, thrilling though it was is small slice of a world-wide Church more than two millennia old. Ups and downs are the Church’s long experience. During this period of Western decline, the Church in Africa has increased by 7,000% Not Bad. Anyway, perspective is good.

      • Vincent says:

        I appreciate your helpful reply but with regard to excuses: If it looks like a duck and walks like a duck…just perhaps there are excuses present or at least weak justifications for the catastrophe in the Church. I agree that what is today described as culture (should not the Church be counter-cultural) has had a harmful effect on the Church but that is not the cause for the loss of vocations rather scandals, revised worship etc. has discouraged vocations. The “VC ll” argument is not necessary for those with eyes to see what has transpired since that catastrophic event. As Pope Paul said “from some fissure the smoke of Satan has entered the temple of God. There is doubt, incertitude, problematic, disquiet, dissatisfaction, confrontation. There is no longer trust of the Church…” And, on his death bed Pope John XXlll exclaimed “Stop the Council”. I presume he saw what the Council was doing to the Faith and wanted the damage to be limited. As stated, prior to 1965 there was definitely “something already underway” and Pope Pius X thankfully stemmed that modernist tide with the Modernist Oath” and his other strong actions.
        When reviewing the endless decline in EVERY Church statistic that matters all I can think of is how this disaster has harmed me and my family and friends. It is an ongoing calamity!
        Thank you for reading the people’s thoughts and comments.
        God will help us all find our way in these dreadful times as He always has.

  16. Dr. Eric says:

    I’m wondering if this takes into account all the recent closings and mergers. Sure, there are the same numbers of priests per parish, but if we merge three parishes in to one and close two others, you could see how this could skew the study.

    • Not sure. Click through the footnote to the CARA study and I think it is addressed. But clearly the closing and mergers have happened mostly toward the end of the period graphed.

  17. Fr Tim says:

    In the Pittsburgh area (heavily ethnic Eastern European) the 50s were indeed halcyon days for the Church. The number of priests, men and women religious were not only sufficient but abundant. The foundation for the predominant Catholic Culture was established between 1905 – 1920 when the Diocese of Pittsburgh Catholic population more than doubled. The entire Greensburg Diocese and portions of the Erie and Altoona/Johnstown Diocese were carved out of Pittsburgh. Between 1905 and 1920 a new Catholic Church was built and consecrated each month. Bishop Hugh Boyle 1920 – 1950 opened on average two new school for each year he led the diocese. All of which were staffed by religious women. The fruits of this immense growth was that in the late 50s and early 60s the number of serving priests in parishes, hospitals, schools and orphanages was such that those who were newly ordained were sometimes directed to find temporary secular employment (taxi driver) until an opening for priestly ministry was available. Perhaps in part diocesan fable but I’ve heard it repeated so many times that I do believe it to be historically accurate.

  18. Ikilope says:

    Just another way in which statistics lie. Yes, as stated this is true. How many parishes were there in 1950 compared to 2013? How many Catholics per priest in 1950 compared to 2013?

  19. Dante says:

    I heard a priest who is head of the USCCB Office for Clergy on the radio the other day. He said that there are about 39,000 priests and 19,000 pernament deacons in the USA. In addition, he stated that the number of permanent deacons increases by about 4% per year while the number of priests decreases by 1% (death, retirement, etc). Even though priestly vocations are up from the recent past it is not enough for the demand. Father stated that the permanent diaconate is the fastest growing chuch vocation and the only one (priest, male or female religious) to experience only increase and not decrease.

    With this in mind he said that the USCCB will be utilizing deacons much more as administrators and other parish-based ministires, working in fraternal coperation with the priests who will be the pastors. Thus, he said the bishops (especially since 2005) are focusing more on the formation of deacons with programs now averaging 5-6 years from entrance to ordination. They are going to be having more theology and liturgical formation as well as preaching courses.

    Out here in CA we have a few large geographical parishes that have a pastor at the main church and a deacon overseeing the daily needs of its mission churches. Since, in addition to many things, deacons by ordination can witness marriages , baptize and officiate at burials, I would think this would be og huge service to the priests. I think this is something to put into the equation regarding “1950”. We may be at that level of priestly numbers but we now have restored to us what they didnot have back in the day: all three levels of Holy Orders alive and active providing us with more clergyman than before. .

    • Brandon says:

      I am a seminarian in my 7th year…I will share with you a secret that’s usually kept among many orthodox seminarians and many priests (both liberal and orthodox)… we do not need MORE permanent deacons in the US… Why? You may ask…

      Well, poor training number one… and all the liturgical, philosophical and theological consequences therefrom… the confusion has to stop! We have more deacons in this country than anywhere else in the world…I am aware of one local diocese whose bishop put a hold on permanent diaconate ordinations… please until the training is inproved stop putting us through the pain of dealing with the permanent diaconate… it’s a thorn in our side! Bishop sample did this in Michigan also.

      And hey you remember clericalism? I realize its a generalization but to quote a newly ordained priest friend of mine (3-4 years), “I have never experienced more clericalism than in the permanent diaconate”… and his experience is not uncommon… having experienced it myself, as well as many of the general lay faithful… whose “run-ins” we have to deal with! Bishop Sample of now Portland… wrote a 19 pg document on the permanent diaconate… that, if followed, would help to put the diaconate in its proper place by giving it a proper understanding.

      Lastly… we already have a horribly catechized generation of Catholics… in fact a couple of generations now… the permanent diaconate has only confused, an already confused, lay faithful as to the distinct, and I emphasize distinct, role of the priest in the liturgy…

      And CARA… they’re the Georgetown research group that just released the study on the permanent diaconate… I’ve only glanced at it… but it’s interesting…

      And there are many permanent deacons out there who are saintly men so don’t get me wrong… but Bishop Sample put it well when he said that, the deacon is ordained to Christ the servant not Christ the priest.

      The work that many of the good deacons I know do… doesn’t require ordination….

      • Dante says:

        Brandon: Congratulations on your vocation! That’s awesome. i agree with you 100% that the diaconate formation programs (like the seminiaries out here in CA at least) need a lot of reform and renewal. But your comments about the diaconate seem way to be off mark. the liturgical ministries of the permanent deacon are not something that committee or some deacon fans made up or proposed, they come from the Magisterium as an official interpretation and teaching of the vocation and identity of the permanent deacon. These things are also taught in the official Catechism of the Catholic Church. I do not think it is a good idea for is to let our experiences with some deacons confuse the truth about this level of Holy Orders or the teachings of the popes and Council. The Council of Trent asked for the restoration of the permanent diaconate and Vatican II made this a reality. The problem is not the diaconate but a more universal malaise that has sadly affected priests, seminarians, religious and laity as well and which you mention: infidelity to true teaching.

        All of the popes since Vatican II have encouraged and praised the permanent diaconate highly. Blessed John Paul II said: The vocation of the permanent deacon is a great gift of God to the Church’…The deacon is not a part-time employee…but a minister of the Church. His is not a profession, but a mission! Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI declared: Dear deacons, I am grateful to you for the services you carry out with great generosity…in these contexts you are called to be servants of the Truth. By proclaiming the Gospel, you will be able to convey the Word that can illumine and give meaning to human work, to the suffering of the sick, and you will help the new generations to discover the beauty of the Christian faith. Thus you will be deacons of the liberating Truth…

        I think if we keep in mind the awesome fact that the diaconate is instituted by Christ as a sacrament, upheld by the Church Fathers as a venerable ministry and promoted by the Church as a sacrament then it is foolish to say there are “too many”…that’s like saying there are “too many” priests or married couples (or outside of sacramental vocations, too many religious). Yes of course there are ministries a deacon does that does not require ordination, the Liturgy is just one of three of his fields of duty (Charity and the Word are the others) But we do not “need” the profession of vows so that dedicated single Catholics can work in hospitals or schools or live in monasteries. They could do this with whole-hearted dedication to Christ and the Church without any vows… But I do not think that means we should get rid of religious life. I do not think you mean or promote this, but it would be a natural conclusion to your expressed logic.

        I will pray for your studies and your soon-to-be ordination! How exciting! God bless!

      • John says:

        FWIW, Brandon,
        I’m not a priest or seminarian, but am a layman several months shy of my 40’s. In my lifetime, I have met all of ONE permanent deacon.

  20. Robert Mc says:

    Perhaps the 1950’s that the good monsignor speaks of is consistent with his mindset since he still seems to live there mentally. Perhaps the monsignor fails to realize that the 1920’s, 30’s, 40’s also had 2,3,4 priests per parish also. Adding to the priest shortage is the fact that many many priests have been suspended and/or in jail for child abuse that the bishops help bring about by covering up these crimes and for what? The good of the Church? I think not. The Church has forever lost its moral authority and the bishops have no one to blame but themselves. Maybe one day they will accept the fact that the message of Jesus Christ is a lot more Christian than they realize it to be.

    • Thanks for your kind support. Thanks also for helping illustrate that I am hated by both extremes in the Church. It is clear from these remarks that the Conservatives dislike my post since they interpret as “excusing” the decline (which I do not do). And then you come along from the left and accuse me of being enamored by the 1950s. Sed in medio stat virtus. I suppose I should be grateful for your unkind remark since it paints me in the middle. For the record, I have never abused children, covered up crimes, or violated my celibate commitment. Not even once.

      By the way I would avoid using the word “forever” with reference to the Church. Nations have risen and fallen, empires come and gone in the 2000 years of the Church. The Church has buried everyone of her undertakers and will be here long after the cynical and dismissive generation of which your remarks are emblematic has died.

      • David says:

        Excellent response Msgr.! I am always amazed at those who imply the dimishment of the authority of the Church as if they themselves were the authority. Thank you for your vocation.

    • Steve M says:

      Wow Robert. Maybe you would be better off just not reading this blog. I of course diagree with some of your comments. How many priests have been suspended or are in jail? I assume from your statement that you actually know the number or percentage to make the assertion that this is an significant factor causing a shortage of priests. Also we completely disagree about the moral authority of the Catholic Church. Since this authority comes from Christ I am not prepared to disregard it. Maybe you should consider a more Christian approach to commenting versus just simply hateful.

  21. Michael says:

    I sincerely believe the #1 reason more men don’t enter the priesthood these days is because of debt. Whether it’s student loans or credit card debt, it’s nearly impossible to go 4-8 years of schooling without an income if you have a debt load. I know this is the only reason I haven’t been able to enter the seminary and I suspect I’m not alone.

    • R says:

      Good point, along with priest pay. Yes priests aren’t in it for the money, but diocesan priests — with the years of education of a doctor or a lawyer — don’t take a vow of poverty either. A permanent fund built up in each diocese and invested expressly for that purpose would obviate the need for collection hectoring. In this small diocese as in most, a few telephone calls to a few millionaires could fund it in a month.

  22. Fr. Jack Feehily says:

    Statistics can be looked at and interpreted in all kinds of ways, including distracting us from the real issue. The leaders of the church have failed to responsibly provide an adequate number of priests from their local churches to provide for pastoral leadership. This failure involves their commitment to restrict the potential pool of candidates only to those willing to live celibate lives. Notice that there is a constant increase in the number of married deacons? The only thing preventing the most qualified and mature among them from being ordained priests is because its against the rules. So they rob India and places in Africa of their priests and drop them into an entirely different cultural milieu because they can confect the Eucharist. Don’t misunderstand. I know of a number of international priests who do an exemplary job as priests in the US despite the serious obstacles. But many of them are here because it benefits their home dioceses financially. In my diocese there would be twenty additional parishes without resident priests without the, and that doesn’t include dozens of mission served from those churches. The church should be expanding, not contracting. To use these stats to imply that we’re no worse off today than in 1950 is really beside the point. Priestly ministry and the qualifications for it needs to be re- imagined under the influence of the Holy Spirit. Laws and rules have a proper place, but the needs of Christ’s faithful for priestly ministry centered around the Eucharist should be the primary consideration.

    • By leaders would you include parents and grandparents? I am not “using” these statistics at all as you suggest. I just think they provide an interesting perspective. There were only 40 million Catholics in 1950. Today 70 million. You bet we should be expanding. I have written of that on countless occasions on this blog.

  23. RichardGTC says:

    In comparing 1950 to today, I think we need to know this: What was the average age of active priests in 1950 compared to the average age of active priests today? Neat read.

  24. Nemo says:

    I think there is a problem with citing how many priests there were per parish as it is not necessary an accurate indicator of the number of priests. For instance if there were more parishes back then (lets say 2 million- pulling it out of a hat). Now lets say that each of those parishes had only one priest. Now lets say that 1/2 of those parishes have been closed and we only have 1 million parishes with only one priest each. Does that mean we have the same number of priests and vocations now as back then? I I don’t think that anyone who has evena limited understanding of mathematics would say so. The only way that stat could bear any weight is if the number of parishes was the same or close back then.

    All I am saying is that statistics can easily be misunderstood (or even twisted for more nefarious puposes). A more accurate idea of the number or priests from back then would be obtaining records from the diocese and adding the numbers up. It would seem that there were more priests back then as parishes were opening in that decade at a rather fast pace (at least in the northeast). However, the Catholic Church I am hearing is doing well down south though so it might counter balance the loss up north.

    • Ok so dont read them. Read no stats, ever. Even if you collect the data you request don’t trust it because stats are easily twisted Misunderstood etc. and even if you put disclaimers with your data like i did and CARA did, its still no good because stats can be misunderstood. So looks like we have numbers

      • Abby says:

        The problem’s not with statistics. Or even with this data, per se. The data is interesting, and it shows an interesting trend. It’s just that there are other ways of asking (and answering) the question of whether there is more of a “priest problem” now than there was in, say, the 1950s. And if we want a complete (or more complete, anyway) picture of what’s going on, we have to look for (and ask) “next questions”.

        I’m not 100% sure that priests-per-parish is really the best way to measure (the article talks about the number of priests per parish impacting ability to offer things like daily Mass, but the number of people in each parish will make a big difference in terms of things like how much time a priest has to devote to hearing Confessions or how many times daily Mass has to be canceled for weddings and funerals). But it seems very likely to me that the number of parishes may have decreased, for a few reasons. First off, the number of people who owned cars in the 1940s and 1950s was likely lower than today (so churches might have been built closer together). Second, it’s possible — I’m not saying it’s true, I’m just saying it’s possible — that parishes were closed/merged because there weren’t enough priests to have one priest per parish anymore. That would be a “worst-case” scenario, of course, but it is consistent with the graph you’ve presented.

        That said, it’s hard to think of a scenario that would counter the sharp rise in the number of priests between 1950 and 1960.

  25. Matthew Ogden says:

    Very insightful, Monsignor. For that matter, this is not the first (and probably not the last) vocations crisis the Church has seen. When reading about the Dissolution of the Monasteries in England in the 1530s, one thing that quickly becomes apparent is that religious life in the country was at a very low point in the sixteenth century. England had far too many monasteries that were far too empty. Even before Henry VIII entered the picture, clergy and secular rulers alike were trying to find ways to reorganize monastic communities in England to condense the smaller numbers of religious into fewer and larger monastic houses. Even St. John Fisher dissolved some houses during his reign as bishop of Rochester. And apparently things on the European continent were not much better either.

    For that matter, a fifteenth century ecumenical council (perhaps Basel, but I cannot remember) issued decrees against plays and puppetry during the Mass. Translation: liturgical abuse.

    This is not really new stuff we’ve been dealing with since the 1960s. It’s just been a while since we’ve seen it. We came through it before, and we will this time as well.

  26. Deacon John M. Bresnahan says:

    In 1950 a priest had to do everything expected of clergy in a parish: Baptisms, Baptism instructions for parents, convert instruction, marriage preparation, homily preparation, wake services, graveside services, funerals, weddings, counseling, adult education and Bible study, benediction services, novenas. That was quite a work load. But all these ministries can be led or carried out by a properly educated, trained deacon who is also an ordained member of the Catholic clergy.
    A while back I saw an article about a priest-sociologist who gave a talk to vocation directors (in Kansas I believe-I wish I had saved the article). He said that if dioceses would use deacons to their full potential there would be no shortage of priests and priests could concentrate on being pastors.

    • stefanie says:

      that is very true, Deacon, but aren’t deacons supposed to also have paid “non-deacon jobs” in order to support their families? Does the Church provide financially for our deacons? (I don’t know, so I’m asking)

      Would it be fair to ask our deacons to increase their ministry-time when they have bills to pay? In our archdiocese, we have many deacons with young children at home and they support their families in well-paid non-deacon professions.

      • Deacon John M. Bresnahan says:

        Stefanie–: It depends on the pastor, the bishop,finances, and the need. Some deacons get stipends for gas and book money. Some hold full-time, full pay positions with their diocese. Some serve full-time without pay (usually men retired from their first career and now living on a good pension). One great thing about the diaconate is its flexibility in service to the Church and her people. One thing that makes the diaconate special is that the commitment to Christ and His Church is for life. On the other hand lay ministers in the Church make no lifetime commitment (which includes the ancient early Christian tradition that if one’s wife dies a deacon (or Eastern Catholic priest) is expected to remain celibate.)

  27. Katherine McMillan says:

    The problem is us the laity. Catholics stopped having big wonderful families, so we have fewer priest. The problem is us, we’re worldly sinners. I am a vain, self obsessed, female. I wish I could find a priest who would preach to me like the sinner I am. We need priests who care more for our souls than they do our tithes. We’re bad and we need to hear it.

    I’m sorry Mons. Pope I have never had the pleasure of attending one of your masses and please God forgive me if this is dis-respectful. I love God’s priest, but I don’t know what you see when you look at us. Do you see good people? We’re not good people, we waste time watching TV and worshipping worldly crap instead of God. Please Monsignor talk to us like the sinners we are. God please give us the grace to know our sinfulness.

  28. esiul says:

    Dear Msgr. Pope,
    This was a great discussion. I don’t have anything to add other than to congratulate you on how you defend
    yourself. We need more clergy like you!

  29. stan Interrante says:

    I am sure most people have heard the expression, “people get the kind of government they deserve.” In the human sense, the same can be said about the Church. No matter how many times the Blessed Mother appears here and there and tells us what we need to do or to repent, nobody listens. What Ms. McMillan said makes more sense to me than all the crying I hear from so many people. Sure the human part of the Church has made many mistakes, they ‘re human. Other than the same small dedicated number of people who actively fight today in the trenches, where is everyone else? It ‘s like what the great Russian, and prophetic Christian, novelist and writer, Aleksandr Solzenitsyn said to the West; YOU WILL NOT UNDERSTAND UNTIL YOU ARE BEING LED AWAY TO YOUR OWN GULAG. P.S. Please spare me any comments about how I should be more understanding or tolerant. I ‘ve had it with lectures about tolerance!

  30. Sam says:

    I was born Catholic in 1929. My perspective is that VII has failed our times.

    • Yes, but you show your age. For those born after 1960, VC II is a non issue. It is time start living in the present and stop dwelling on the distant past. VC II was fifty years ago. Its time to get on. 2013 has little to do with a four year period in the early sixties. Too many other things have happened that collectively matter more. Further, it is pure speculation to wonder if the Church would be better off or worse off if there were no Council. There is no capacity for us to know, either way. Its 2013 and its time to stop our bickering and blaming and deal with now. The fact is, there are a lot of good things happening now.

      • Ian88 says:

        Monsignor, I respectfully, (and I want to emphasize that) disagree with how you responded to Sam. I was born in the early 80’s. I have experienced my first Extraordinary Form (TLM) Mass just two years ago and I have to say, “WOW!” I have, for some time, wondered aloud what was wrong with me. Here I love the Lord, have been trying to follow the commandments, routined the Sacraments, prayed (mostly) regularly, etc.. But overtime I have grown increasingly frustrated with nonsense after nonsense. Before I go on, I recognize that the pre-Novus Ordo times had their own problems and abuses, etc… There is no denying that, from what I’ve read here and elsewhere. But the thing that struck me between the two forms of Mass, using the Novus Ordo as it is most commonly celebrated and not as it should/could be, is that I’m really confused who the priest is talking to. I don’t look Monsignor straight in the eye when I’m talking to my friend Pete. Why is the priest looking me straight in the eye and talking in this sing-songy style when he’s really speaking to God? (in the Eucharistic Prayers, for example). Why does the priest go to such lengths to avoid touching the Monstrance during Benediction, but then allow a whole troop and a half of men and women up into the Sanctuary for the purposes of distributing Holy Communion? Why is an EXTRAORDINARY Mass so rare that it could only be found in a handful of parishes, and not usually every weekend, but EXTRAORDINARY Ministers of Holy Communion can be found in handfuls at each and every Mass? At least in one form of the Mass, the anonymity of the priest was more assured, and you didn’t have him as an obstacle for worship. Now the priests think they have to be really cool, relevant and hip in order to win our attention, and, ultimately, this fails. We feel talked down to and not raised up. That is a perspective of a young man in his 30’s, and while again, I recognize that the past wasn’t all roses and tulips, there was at least a correct orientation. Sometimes I leave Mass and say to my loving wife, “If this is the fullness of truth, I’d have a hard time staying.” It’s only because of the SELFLESS people of our Faith, who put God ahead of their egos, personalities, and whims, that I’m given the grace to stay. And thankfully, because of God’s promises, that won’t ever be completely irradicated from the face of this earth.

  31. stefanie says:

    One only needs to read about the saints — especially saintly priests — to find out how ridiculous it is for American Catholics to lament ‘there aren’t enough priests anymore’ — my goodness, there never HAS been a time of abundant priests outside of Rome.

    A priest is ‘grown’ from a family that is in love with the Catholic faith so much that it will encourage its sons to the priesthood.

    While researching the life of St. Jean Marie Vianney (the Cure of Ars), I came across and have been reading Pope J23rd’s 1950 encyclical “Sacerdotii Nostri Primordia”/ On the Priesthood. What an amazing document — you will see many of Pope Benedict/Francis references to the life of the priest. The whole thing is worth reading and gives one much hope. Even in 1959, J23rd is writing, ” Our most recent predecessors have often issued serious warnings to the priests about the extent of the dangers that are arising among the clergy from a growing carelessness about obedience with regard to the teaching authority of the Church, to the various ways and means of undertaking the apostolate, and to ecclesiastical discipline.” (Paragraph 31)
    He goes on to say (in Paragraph 33) : It is said that St. Jean Marie Vianney lived in the Church in such a way that he worked for it alone, and burned himself up like a piece of straws being consumed on fiery coals. May that flame which comes from the Holy Spirit reach those of Us who have been raised to the priesthood of Jesus Christ and consume us too.”
    In his paragraphs 109 – 113, J23rd addressed the Call for Vocations: “Priests often find themselves in difficult circumstances. This is not surprising; for those who hate the Church always show their hostility by trying to harm an deceive her sacred ministers….those who want to overthrow religion always try in their hatred to strike at priests first of all. (113) But even in the face of these serious difficulties, priests who are ardent in their devotion to God enjoy a real, sublime happiness from an awareness of their position, for they know that they have been called by the Divine Savior to offer their help in a most holy work, which will have an effect on the redemption of the souls of men and on the growth of the Mystical Body of Christ. So Let Christian families consider it one of their most sublime privileges to give priests to the Church; and so let them offer their sons to the sacred ministry with joy and gratitude.”

  32. Bill Foley says:

    One of the basic reasons for the shortage of priests is the fact that the majority of lay-folk are contracepting, and the primary fault lies with the bishops and priests of my generation–I am 73–who failed to support Pope Paul VI and to teach and preach the doctrine contained in Humanae Vitae.
    By the way, I have read in the past some comments by saints that God does provide enough priestly vocations to serve the flock; however, St. John Eudes did say that the laity get the priests that they deserve–I imagine that this also covers the lack of same.

  33. Len says:

    Our Father who art in Heaven (holy is His Name) is fully in charge of His Son’s church. If He wills there to be only one priest for every ten thousand, then that is His will. Let’s not forget that His Son said He will be with us until the end of time. Now think that through. It means He will be with us in the manner in which He has chosen: the Eucharist. And He will also be with us in the number of “other Christs”…His priests…that it takes to keep the Eucharist coming in our world each and every day. So now….straighten your backs, lift up your chins and say your prayers, all. And for Peter’s sake….show some Faith! Everything will be all right. You just gotta believe. And His kingdom will come.

  34. Ttony says:

    Dear Mgr Pope: we had an interesting controversy about priest numbers in England and Wales earlier this year (see here for a final resolution of the numbers), but the number of religious priests is important when addressing the overall numbers of priests. There just were more priests who were members of orders prior to WWII. Was this not the case in the US?

  35. Rose says:

    The first thing I thought of this chart is the rise began in the 60’s during the time of the sexual revolution and many homosexuals at that time infiltrated the Church. Now that the Church has been once again purified, seminarians have increased but this time in the Light of Jesus.

  36. Steve C says:

    It’s a ‘surprising” stat bc it isn’t true. Well it’s spun at least. http://www.harrvestingthefruiit.com/happy-days–are-here-again/
    Did it take into consideration all the parish closing for the past 50yrs? I know in my diocese not everyone has a parish priest & when more retire it’s not going to be pretty.

    • you certainly do misinterpret the intent. 1950 were not happy days and happy days are not here again. The number says what it says, namely that the there were about 1 priest per parish in 1950, and about that number now. That is all.

      Gadzooks y’all lighten up. I am sorry if this stat is “off message” for the “church gone down the tubes crowd” but its just a number. We have WELL DISCUSSED the problems of the Church. This is not a smiley face blogger you’re talking to. Time to shut down these comments. Too much heat not enough light. The enemy is out there folks. Lets go get him…

  37. Arthur Reddick says:

    Father, the statistics you show,and I quote,” The fact is, the number of priests per parish spiked sharply after 1950 and has now leveled back to the levels of 1950″ is misleading and frankly distorts the real debacle, This is because (not your fault) the happy talk from the folks at Georgetown (now there’s a paragon of Chuch teaching) skillfully left out the “rest of the story”.
    I can’t show the chart using this format, but let be give the numbers: If you will send me an e-mail address I will send you the chart and others, or I suggest you get the Ken Jones report Paints a whole different ball game:
    Now these are based on seminarians,”the number of priests by parish” is a little game playing when you throw in population explosion from 1950 and 2000.
    One interesting observation !!! What happened between 1950 and 2000 .that would cause such a DRASTIC reversal. How about Vatican II (1963) ant the introduction of the PILL?

    # seminarians
    1900 –9,000
    1910 –16,000
    1920 – 16,000
    1930 – 25,000
    1940 -41,000
    1950–50,000
    Note the trend line
    NOW!

    1960-48,000
    1970-29,000
    1980-15,000
    1990 -5,000
    2000-4,000

    Ps let me throw in another statistic. This is the number seminarians we would have today based on the pre-1950 trend:
    # Seminarians
    1970—46,560
    1980—50,700
    1990—63,200
    2000—71,100

    • Yes, but add cultural revolution too. The causes are not only internal. And we’re back to the speculative debate about whether the Council made things worse or prevented a worse meltdown. Its not a solvable things since it involves speculation. Can we please move on, VC II happened in 1965. This is 2013 and for most Catholics it is not a relevant matter and is a debate that produces a lot of heat and almost no light. Thanks for the other stats. They are helpful.

  38. Jason says:

    Parishes are much larger, and there are far fewer of them, so the numbers being provided in the survey quoted above are pretty much meaningless. When you close thousands of parishes and the ones which remain are much larger, it is easy to maintain the ratio of one priest per parish. Unfortunately, this is smoke and mirrors and not at all reflective of reality. Using the relative comparison of “priests per parish” is arbitrary in the first place. A much better, and more telling statistic, would be to examine the number of priests per x number of laity. I’m sure that Msgr Pope means well, but this so-called study, is poorly done, and poorly interpreted. In my job as a researcher, if I tried to present or publish data this obviously flawed from a methodological standpoint, I would get laughed at.

  39. Jim says:

    Interesting statistics.

    As in the case of any statistical analysis, this one tells a story that is accurate to the extent the raw statistics prove.

    In terms of drawing conclusions, and applying those conclusions to other stories may be a flawed exercise.

    As I think about the fluidity of the dynamic of the USA experiment, I am immediately drawn to the increase in her population. That leads me to ask how many priests per person are there today? How does that compare with a similar ratio in other decades?

    In terms of priests per parish, I must consider the number of parishes there are today compared to years past.
    Even that leads to other questions. The shifting of populations from one area of the country to other areas immediately comes to mind.

    Some areas of the country have seen parishes suppressed, while other areas are experiencing the establishment of new parishes. Likewise, some dioceses have been split as new dioceses are established in order to meet the needs of the faithful.

    And we should consider the changes taking place within the families of faithful. The number of children per family is the first change that comes to my mind.

    Yet, when all is said and done, I am enlightened by your presentation of those numbers.

  40. Rick12 says:

    After reading through the many posts I have come to one conclusion, we need to get back to basics. We can not change what has happened over the last 50 yrs in the Church but each one of use can live the life Christ called us to live. Live your life through the sacraments of the Church, attend mass every Sunday and all Holy days and when ever else possible. Pray are Rosaries by are selves and with family and friends. Enter either a married or religious vocation. If you choose to marry be open to life and raise your family in the faith. If your vocation is the priesthood or a religious order be the next John Vianney or St. Theresa of Avila. The rebuilding of the Church starts with an individual saying yes to God and continuing to say yes. Not my will but thy will be done. Live it, Love it, Spread it. Spend more time on your knees and your head down rather than standing with your hands up in the air like you have anything to do with what is going on at the altar. Look up at the consecration realize the miracle you are witnessing then bow down in humility to the true presence of God. Mass is not about you it is about the greatest gift ever given mankind and that can only happen through the consecrated hands of men called by God to stand in His place for us. Those men come from us. If we don’t have enought priests it is because we, the laity, have failed to provide them. The Church has failed us in many ways but when we stand before God at judgement I don’t think He will except that as an excuse for we have done and what we have failed to do. But the Church is still here and it still contains the wholeness of truth and still has many good priests and bishops and laity, you just have to dig alittle deeper to find it and them.

  41. dan says:

    Yes if your gay became a prient and since your in darkness already you can enjoy more darkness of Catholicism And get away with it

  42. Gadzooks y’all lighten up. I am sorry if this stat is “off message” for the “church gone down the tubes crowd” but its just a number. We have WELL DISCUSSED the problems of the Church. This is not a smiley face blogger you’re talking to.

    Time to shut down these comments. Too much heat not enough light.

    The enemy is out there folks. Lets go get him… out there…..! I am not your enemy, the Bishop is not your enemy. He’s out there.

    I have NO IDEA if VC II made things worse or staved off a worse disaster (and neither do you). But Please VC II was fifty (50!) years ago. Can we please move forward?

    The TLM Mass is available and if God wants it to grow and TLMers start evangelizing it will grow. Meanwhile, remember this is 2013, not 1963 or even 1973…..

    By the way, this is not a rant against the last comments per se, but against the general animus of many comments, and many more that I had to delete due to a severe lack of charity, persoanl attacks, bishop bashing etc. Wowza, the devil sure does have his tricks. Remember folks, He’s preeminently out there —-> Thata way —–> Lets go get ‘em.

  43. [...] plenty of problems in the Church that need to be addressed.  One can view the article in question here . He received a great deal of feedback and it seems a lot of it was hostile from the right, there [...]