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Vocations Dearth Killing Parishes

August 31, 2023 Our Catholic Faith No Comments


The victims of the Maui fire jumped into the water to flee the hellish conflagration all around them. Souls are abandoning the Barque of Peter as heresy and lack of priests threaten parish viability. The synods welcome a priest shortage so that they “fix” it by further multiplying the already ubiquitous lay “ministers.” The Church teaches officially that there are only three ministries in the Church: bishop, priest, and deacon.
Lay attendance at Mass is commonly acknowledged to be in freefall. Join lack of priestly vocations to that and you have a looming disaster.
“The Episcopal Conference of France has published their figures for priestly Ordinations: There are 88 new priests in 2023, as compared with 130 in 2021. The press release from the French bishops easily recognizes a fall which is part of a continuous trend of falling vocations within the Church, which we have been observing for 20 years, and which many sociologists of religions have documented” (Bishops’ Conference of France).
The context: “There were about a hundred diocesan priests per year between 2000 and 2010. There are only 52 this year, to which are added 36 religious. But despite this contribution, the total figure of 88 new priests is indeed an unprecedented drop.
“For the record, in 1961, the quarterly review of the National Vocations Center had already titled one of its issues: ‘The most serious crisis in 150 years!’ Indeed, from 1951 to 1960, the number of ordinations of diocesan priests had dropped dramatically. The Church in France had gone from 1,028 to 595 ordinations per year.
“In Le Figaro of June 22, Jean-Marie Guénois comments on the particularly worrying figures for this year: ‘If this trend is confirmed, the number of ordinations of diocesan priests would have fallen by 50 percent in two decades. Unheard of, even if we have to wait for confirmation of the sustainability of such a projection. However, it is probable, the entries being more and more rare’.”
“Important seminaries were recently closed in Lille and Bordeaux. It takes seven years of training to mature a vocation, with a loss rate of one out of two candidates. The [Archdiocese] of Paris is even beginning to tremble: In September 2022, only four candidates presented themselves for the first year of seminary. And only five priests will be ordained this June 24 in the Saint-Sulpice church in Paris. There were 10 in 2022, 12 in 2021.”
“And to specify: ‘This crisis of vocations is not only French, but European. It is also very notable in Poland but also in Italy, which is beginning to worry the Vatican. North America is not being spared, nor is South America.’
“In Switzerland, the Institute of Pastoral Sociology (IPS), relayed by on June 24, also notes: ‘Since 1950, the number of diocesan priests domiciled in Switzerland has been reduced by half, it has decreased by one quarter since the turn of the century alone, but the differences between dioceses are notable.’
“The decline was particularly marked in the Dioceses of St. Gall, Basel, Sion, and Lausanne-Geneva-Fribourg, while it was less marked in the Dioceses of Chur and Lugano, especially during the last two decades. In 1950, the Swiss dioceses had 2,986 priests. They had 1,294 in 2022.
“According to an estimate by the IPS, ‘the number of diocesan priests will decline further in all dioceses, but with significant disparities. In 2029, barely more than 900 priests should still belong to a Swiss diocese, i.e., one-third less than today. The two Dioceses of Basel and St. Gall will suffer a greater than average decline, as has already been the case over the past decades, due to the significant aging of priests and the scarcity of priestly ordinations.”
For years, dioceses hired radical lay-garbed women religious to sit on vocations admissions boards and to interview and accuse candidates of “rigidity” and other false charges in order to eliminate them and artificially reduce the numbers of seminary candidates. It looks now as though they did their job so well they are no longer needed.
“This vertiginous drop in the number of ecclesiastics leads to abuses that the next synod on synodality is very likely not to sanction, and perhaps even to condone. To compensate for the lack of priests in Switzerland, they will not hesitate to call on lay people. In La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana on June 16, 2023, Luisella Scrosati notes that in the canton of Basel, it is now usual for lay people to exercise priestly functions: they preach; they preside over a liturgy of the Word which completely replaces the Mass; and they baptize and celebrate marriages.”
The agenda, as dictated by the perpetual cycle of synods, will be to consolidate the process already in play of replacing ordained priests with women “ministers” at Sunday Communion services in lieu of Mass. This in the hope of building pressure on bishops to do that which the Church has already officially declared impossible: confer ordination upon women. How they will pull this off in the United States, which has more ordained deacons than the rest of the Catholic world combined, remains to be seen. Deacons were sold as a plan to assist priests with Communion calls, Baptisms, preaching, and other tasks. In reality, deacons are seen little around parishes except when they are needed least: on Sunday at Mass in the sanctuary with the priest.
Already there is a phenomenon at play in parishes which use lay “ministers” to give Communion. Some faithful in the Communion queue at Mass can be observed switching lines in order to receive the Sacrament from the consecrated hands of a priest.
At the same time, the small number of real Catholic believers who are left will flee to the few parishes remaining with a priest at the helm. This will hasten the already advanced balkanization of the Church made evident by such websites as “” What made such a resource necessary? The rampant and widespread loss of the sacred with the banning of Traditional Latin Masses. Which is happening all over again.
Concerned Catholics in Switzerland decried the catastrophic results of priest-less parishes in a dubium sent to Rome: “Lay theologians are appointed by the bishops to the heads of parishes, which is not in conformity with canon law. This gives them the option of preaching in parishes during Mass or doing away with Mass altogether, replacing it with Liturgies of the Word.”
“The dioceses most affected by this phenomenon are those of Basel, Chur, and St. Gall. The first has even been taken as a model by Germany’s Synodal Path. . . .
“In Basel, lay theologians preach, baptize, and celebrate marriages, and same-sex couples are blessed, hence this implacable consequence recalled by Vera Fides: ‘All this has led to an immense loss of faith in this diocese, and many people have left the Church.’ Almost half of the parishes in the Diocese of Basel no longer have Sunday Mass, but only a Liturgy of the Word with distribution of communion’ (La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana, June 16, 2023).
With the emptying of the parishes, the Church is being dangerously diminished.
Praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever.

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