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Priests Down, Seminarians Up
Zenit (Vatican News Agency) | 05/12/03 | N/A

Posted on 05/12/2003 5:10:19 AM PDT by ninenot

ROME, MAY 11, 2003 (Zenit.org).- Over a 23-year period the number of priests in the world decreased, while the number of seminarians increased.

This is the conclusion of a study by Father Vito Magno of the vocational review Rogate. The study compared the data of the Church's Statistical Yearbook from 1978 with December 2001.

In 1978, the total of diocesan and religious priests was 420,000; at the end of 2001 their number had dropped to 405,067.

The decrease is due above all to the reduced number of religious-order priests, especially in Europe, North America and Oceania, in whose countries the average age of priests has also increased.

The decrease is in contrast to the increase in the number of priests in Africa, Asia and some Latin American countries.

The number of permanent deacons increased to 29,204 from 5,562. This ministry was re-established in the Catholic Church with the Second Vatican Council.

The decrease in the number of priests is in contrast to the increase in the number of seminarians, which has almost doubled. In 1978, there were 63,882 candidates to the priesthood, compared with 112,244 at the end of 2001.

Over the past quarter-century, particularly in Africa, the number of seminarians has multiplied by four and in Asia by five. In Europe, the number has increased to 25,908 at present from 23,915 in 1978.

The study revealed a more complicated situation in regard to women religious. In 1978, they numbered 990,768; now they total 792,317.

As opposed to the case of seminarians, there is no significant growth in the number of women entering novitiates. In this case also, the most notable decrease has been registered in Europe, North America and Oceania.

ZE03051102


TOPICS: Catholic; Current Events; General Discusssion; Ministry/Outreach; Religion & Culture
KEYWORDS: catholic; catholiclist; priesthood; vocations
For those who STILL maintain that vocations are down worldwide, please read this (Sinky)
1 posted on 05/12/2003 5:10:19 AM PDT by ninenot
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To: sinkspur; ELS; BlackElk; Aquinasfan; NYer; Catholicguy; Desdemona; maryz; patent; narses; ...
Ping
2 posted on 05/12/2003 5:11:03 AM PDT by ninenot (Joe McCarthy was RIGHT, but Drank Too Much)
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To: ninenot
bump
3 posted on 05/12/2003 5:47:36 AM PDT by Desdemona
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To: ninenot
Good News Bump
4 posted on 05/12/2003 6:01:09 AM PDT by Cap'n Crunch
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To: Alberta's Child; Aloysius; AniGrrl; Bellarmine; Canticle_of_Deborah; Dajjal; Domestic Church; ...
In 1978, the total of diocesan and religious priests was 420,000; at the end of 2001 their number had dropped to 405,067.

The study revealed a more complicated situation in regard to women religious. In 1978, they numbered 990,768; now they total 792,317.

As opposed to the case of seminarians, there is no significant growth in the number of women entering novitiates. In this case also, the most notable decrease has been registered in Europe, North America and Oceania.

The bad news far outweighs the good here.

5 posted on 05/12/2003 6:14:26 AM PDT by Loyalist (Adrienne? Adrienne?)
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To: Loyalist
How so?
6 posted on 05/12/2003 6:56:44 AM PDT by ninenot (Joe McCarthy was RIGHT, but Drank Too Much)
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To: ninenot
This article is noteworthy for the information that's missing, either because it wasn't part of the original study, or it didn't fit the general thrust of the article.

The study disingenuously uses 1978 as its starting point, to suggest that John Paul II's pontificate has been one in which vocations have flourished, and that the Church is coming along just fine.

Starting from the nadir of the post-Vatican II mess is a great way to make a dead-cat bounce look like real growth.

Yet over the course of John Paul II's reign, the total number of priests has fallen about 4%. The more telling figure would be the ratio of priests to laity.

A growth of 75% in the number of seminarians worldwide looks like an impressive figure; but consider what year that growth is being measured from.

Look also at the 9% growth in seminarians in Europe. It looks healthy until you consider that much of that growth probably comes from two sources; the re-opening of seminaries in countries formerly behind the Iron Curtain, and the increasing numbers of Third World seminarians sent to Europe. Factor those out, and the collapse of the Church in Her Western European heartland continues unabated.

Finally, the 20% fall in the number of women religious. No amount of fiddling the figures can hide the collapse of women's religious orders and their novitiates.

The implications for the Church that the extinction of women's religious orders raises are too many to count, but they are horrible.
7 posted on 05/12/2003 7:40:06 AM PDT by Loyalist (No one expects the Free Republic Inquisition!)
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To: ninenot
Nothing wrong with going to seminary just to learn.... IMO...
8 posted on 05/12/2003 7:41:33 AM PDT by Terriergal (Si vis pacem, para bellum....)
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To: ninenot
Pray for vocations!

It needs to be the Number One priority will all Arch/dioceses!
9 posted on 05/12/2003 7:47:22 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: ninenot
This is an older article (one year) but one I think worth popping up again.

In Seminaries, New Ways for a New Generation

10 posted on 05/12/2003 7:52:29 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: ninenot
For those who STILL maintain that vocations are down worldwide, please read this

Of course they are down. This article represents a tendentious use of statistics. A couple of quick points:

1. They used 1978 as the starting point because that was the nadir. But there had already been a complete collapse of vocations over the previous 10 years. Yet even compared with the worst of the seventies, things have not improved.

2. The number of priests has dropped as dramatically as you might have expected since 1978, but there's a huge generation of priests ready to retire and/or pass on. There's virtually no one there to replace them. The priesthood is facing demographic annihilation.

3. The increase in seminarians is up from the very lowest point when there were virtually none as a percentage of Catholics worldwide. But it's still not nearly enough to replace the dying generation that represents the last of the pre-Vatican remnant.

4. It's no consolation to know that they are finding vocations in Africa or Asia if there are none in your own parish, and your diocese expects you to attend a "worship service" run by a lesbian pastoral administrator. First of all, the increase in those areas is up from virtually none. There are still not nearly enough priests to serve the Catholics in their own regions. The Phillipines, for examples, has a priest - laity ratio much worse than our own. Secondly, if the Catholic Church dies in its traditional home of Europe and in the Americas, Asia and Africa are not going to be able to replace the loss of this precious heritage.

11 posted on 05/12/2003 7:55:41 AM PDT by Maximilian
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To: Maximilian; Loyalist
Good morning, guys.

I often wonder whether the crisis of vocations is really a crisis after all is said and done.

The Archdiocese of Boston website has a stat that indicates only 15% of Catholics here attend weekly Mass. Looking around at other dioceses and assuming the weekly Mass attending Catholics hovers at around 30%, how many priests do we need? The Catholic population increases, but most do not go beyond baptism and First Holy Communion. The kids attend CCD (but not Mass), are Confirmed and that is usually that until they want to have a church wedding.

If there were more priests, would more Catholics attend weekly Mass?

12 posted on 05/12/2003 8:03:36 AM PDT by american colleen
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To: ninenot
Over the past quarter-century, particularly in Africa, the number of seminarians has multiplied by four and in Asia by five.

At least a guy gets three squares a day in a seminary on a continent where abject poverty is the rule and with little hope for a man with an IQ over 90. Priests don't starve.

The clerical profession's image in some of these countries is beginning to rival the one it held in the US prior to the 70s and will, hopefully, some day recover.

13 posted on 05/12/2003 8:21:37 AM PDT by sinkspur
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To: american colleen
I often wonder whether the crisis of vocations is really a crisis after all is said and done. The Archdiocese of Boston website has a stat that indicates only 15% of Catholics here attend weekly Mass.

This is a good point -- a much better one than that made by the original article. The number of priests and the number of laity are declining pari passu.

Are we going to need many New Mass priests in the future? I think that the vision you invoke is already coming true in some locations: a mass-produced sacramental system where a handful of priests say the magic words for all the rituals, while the people show up only for special occassions. We can already see this in action in many of the main-line protestant denominations.

Why do they bother hanging around at all? Because of the money. The protestant ministers, and the New Mass priests, won't entirely disappear until the endowments are all spent. Rosemary Radford Ruether, when she was asked why she stayed in the Church at all, answered, "Because that's where the copy machines are." In this respect, maybe the current scandals will hasten the day when the money is gone, so there is no longer any incentive for "ministers" who don't believe to keep hanging around the Church, and then a solution might become possible.

14 posted on 05/12/2003 8:25:22 AM PDT by Maximilian
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To: Loyalist
Most of the net of the losses is attirbutable to the AmChurch.
15 posted on 05/12/2003 8:56:35 AM PDT by Hermann the Cherusker
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To: Loyalist
Christos Voskrese!

Finally, the 20% fall in the number of women religious. No amount of fiddling the figures can hide the collapse of women's religious orders and their novitiates.

Considering how bad many of these Orders have become, not necessarily bad news. Of course there is a collapse. If they are no longer serving God and His Church as His brides, they are no longer needed. But...

The implications for the Church that the extinction of women's religious orders raises are too many to count, but they are horrible.

New Orders of young, zealous, mature, orthodox women (and men) are coming out! They represent the future. That's where a real survey would be helpful in pointing out the growth of the Gospel. Where are the young Religious going? Into new Orders with vibrant Faith! Numbers are small now, but they'll grow because the Truth of our Faith can't be set aside forever - and they offer Truth! God will take care of His Church. He will still call young men and women to serve Him with singular devotion from deep within their hearts. This isn't the first time in the history of the Church that this cycle has happened.

16 posted on 05/12/2003 11:06:50 AM PDT by TotusTuus ( Voistinu Voskrese!)
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To: ninenot
The book Good Bye Good Men gives a thorough treatment of the subject. It appears that many seminaries have been systematically rooted out the anti-homosexual and orthodox. Gay liberal candidates sail right through to ordination but most of them don't last long in the active priesthood. Seminaries firmly under orthodox control are bursting at the seams.

My sense is that most seminaries in the US fall somewhere in between these two extremes. Homosexuality is still tolerated but no longer forced. This would correspond to the typical behavior of JPII bishops who tolerate but slightly downgrade the proclamation of liberal heresy while energetically suppressing attempts at Catholic restoration.

Needless to say, the heartless, ongoing toleration of heresy and buggary is alienating and corrupting Catholic youth.

17 posted on 05/12/2003 11:14:59 AM PDT by Longshanks
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To: Loyalist
First, I would guess that they picked JPII's years b/c of his upcoming anniversary.

But having said that, so what? Are you able to demonstrate, using figures from, say, 1969, that the numbers are awful?

How can you insist that a substantial increase in Sem. enrollments outside of the West is either bad or lying with figures?

I suspect your glass is not half-full. It's drained.
18 posted on 05/12/2003 12:23:12 PM PDT by ninenot (Joe McCarthy was RIGHT, but Drank Too Much)
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To: TotusTuus
It would seem that we are the only two on this thread who view an increase as an increase, and understand that new religious orders (male AND female) are growing like topsy.

Sad, isn't it?
19 posted on 05/12/2003 12:27:23 PM PDT by ninenot (Joe McCarthy was RIGHT, but Drank Too Much)
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To: ninenot
Dear ninenot,

"It would seem that we are the only two on this thread who view an increase as an increase, and understand that new religious orders (male AND female) are growing like topsy."

Maybe some of us lurkers do. ;-)

The bad news here is old news. The new news is the good news.

Seriously, though, I remember that once, there were over 500,000 priests in the world. The number did fall dramatically, but the drop seems to have levelled off during Pope John Paul's pontificate. I wonder what additional data points between 1978 and now would look like. I wonder whether, in the years following his becoming pontiff, the numbers declined even more, and perhaps they might already be on an upswing.

In any event, the dramatic rise in seminarians is very good news, and in absolute terms, even better news. With about 60,000 seminarians, one can only expect about 12,000 or so ordinations per year, assuming little fall-off of young men during their seminary years. If the average age at ordination is about 35, and most men serve actively until about 70, over time, that will barely replace some 400,000+ priests. As well, in the short term, because there is a big generational bulge approaching retirement, for a few years, the number of priests could decline even more dramatically.

But 112,000 seminaries could easily produce 20,000+ ordinations per year, over time, and could easily see a rise to around 700,000 priests over the course of a couple of generations.

I know that in our archdiocese, we are seeing that sort of uptrend, in miniature. Going back only four or five years, we scarcely had enough men in the seminary to provide, statistically speaking, replacement levels for the priests we have now (and the problem is exacerbated in that so many of our priests are not far off from retirement age).

But the last few years have seen an upsurge in vocations in our archdiocese. It may be a little early to hope that the upsurge is permanent, but if it continues, it would mean that over time the number of priests in our archdiocese would increase significantly.

So, I go to my KofC meetings, and we pray for more vocations.


sitetest
20 posted on 05/12/2003 12:48:02 PM PDT by sitetest
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To: ninenot
Per-captia vocations are down in the developed world. That's a problem, even if it's great that vocations are up in the 3rd world.
21 posted on 05/12/2003 5:22:52 PM PDT by traditionalist
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To: sitetest; ninenot
Christos Voskrese!

Seriously, though, I remember that once, there were over 500,000 priests in the world.

Aww, there comes a point where you have to say, "Screw the numbers!" Holiness and the salvation of souls isn't the the most important issue for the Church - it's the only issue for the Church. Our Lord was born in the midst of a census, what does that census do for us today?

So, I go to my KofC meetings, and we pray for more vocations.

That's the ticket! Some of us plant, some water, but God provides the growth. The good news is that men and women are being attracted to those Orders that serve the Gospel. The rest are withering away.

22 posted on 05/13/2003 1:10:52 PM PDT by TotusTuus ( Voistinu Voskrese!)
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To: sinkspur; ninenot; Maximilian
Christos Voskrese!

The clerical profession's image in some of these countries is beginning to rival the one it held in the US prior to the 70s and will, hopefully, some day recover.

A thread like this can quickly become depressing. The clerical profession? Priest are Sacraments called to a Divine Vocation to serve God in His Church, the mystical body and bride of Christ, for the salvation of His creatures called to a life of Holiness as adopted sons and daughters in His Son. As long as they "image" Christ correctly, that's all that matters from the perspective of eternity.

You know, others have mentioned the whole Africa/Asia comparison with Europe. I can't help but reflect that the Church originally was Middle Eastern. Europe came later and the Middle East was overrun by Islam. Currently, Europe is essentially throwing her "precious heritage", built on the Gospel of Christ, away. Maybe it is God's plan for the Church to become strong and Holy in the "third world" countries now and re-evangelize Europe (and America) from them. If so, good! Maybe Europe and America are becoming too arrogant and complacent. It is not unlike God to use the weak to correct the strong.

Are souls being saved? That's the only question of any importance. The trends seem to suggest that there are young people hearing a call from God to actively engage the precious and living heritage - Tradition - of God's Holy Church and launch Her to the future. A future of growth collecting God's children into Catholic unity.

23 posted on 05/13/2003 1:41:39 PM PDT by TotusTuus ( Voistinu Voskrese!)
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To: traditionalist
>>Per-captia vocations are down in the developed world>>

Down since 1965? Yes. Down since 1978? No. They started to recover in the U.S. in the early '80's; in Europe in the early '90's (excluding the former USSR, but possibly including Poland, Hungary and Czechoslavakia; I don't remember.)

24 posted on 09/08/2003 9:32:34 AM PDT by dangus
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To: GatorGirl; maryz; *Catholic_list; afraidfortherepublic; Antoninus; Aquinasfan; Askel5; livius; ...
Ping.
25 posted on 11/02/2003 5:19:57 PM PST by narses ("The do-it-yourself Mass is ended. Go in peace" Francis Cardinal Arinze of Nigeria)
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To: sinkspur
At least a guy gets three squares a day in a seminary on a continent where abject poverty is the rule and with little hope for a man with an IQ over 90. Priests don't starve.

Translation: "See, the Holy Spirit has nothing to do with calling these men. It's all about a desire to live a comfortable life. Also, Africans are stupid."

Thanks again for your sage advice, deak.
26 posted on 11/02/2003 6:53:41 PM PST by Antoninus (In hoc signo, vinces †)
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To: Antoninus
It's all about a desire to live a comfortable life. Also, Africans are stupid."

On the contrary. They're not stupid.

And not starving is not the definition of a comfortable life.

If Africa had the GDP of the United States, seminaries wouldn't be flooded.

27 posted on 11/02/2003 6:58:19 PM PST by sinkspur (Adopt a dog or a cat from a shelter. You will save one life, and may save two.)
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To: sinkspur
If Africa had the GDP of the United States, seminaries wouldn't be flooded.

Do you believe that the Holy Spirit has anything to do with vocations or are all men's decisions predicated solely on self-interest?
28 posted on 11/02/2003 7:07:02 PM PST by Antoninus (In hoc signo, vinces †)
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To: Antoninus
Do you believe that the Holy Spirit has anything to do with vocations or are all men's decisions predicated solely on self-interest?

The Holy Spirit has everything to do with calls to the priesthood.

Mens' responses, however, are influenced by a lot of things.

29 posted on 11/02/2003 7:37:24 PM PST by sinkspur (Adopt a dog or a cat from a shelter. You will save one life, and may save two.)
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To: sinkspur
The Holy Spirit has everything to do with calls to the priesthood.

Good, then we're in agreement. As it is a wise thing to follow the Holy Spirit's lead, then, it is only logical to look at those dioceses which have had the greatest successes with new vocations and adopt their methods, right?
30 posted on 11/02/2003 8:14:58 PM PST by Antoninus (In hoc signo, vinces †)
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To: Antoninus
Orthodoxy is the answer. Sinky don't like it though. Orthodox Dioceses need no married priests.
31 posted on 11/02/2003 8:17:42 PM PST by narses ("The do-it-yourself Mass is ended. Go in peace" Francis Cardinal Arinze of Nigeria)
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To: narses
Orthodoxy is the answer. Sinky don't like it though. Orthodox Dioceses need no married priests.

There are certain people out there who think that they can nudge the Holy Spirit their way using purely earthly means....
32 posted on 11/02/2003 8:31:00 PM PST by Antoninus (In hoc signo, vinces †)
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To: Antoninus
There are certain people out there who think that they can nudge the Holy Spirit their way using purely earthly means....

There are also certain people who think that they know, absolutely, what the Holy Spirit is saying, at all times and in all places.

Maybe they don't.

33 posted on 11/02/2003 8:37:46 PM PST by sinkspur (Adopt a dog or a cat from a shelter. You will save one life, and may save two.)
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To: TotusTuus; ninenot
A thread like this can quickly become depressing. <snip> ... 
Are souls being saved? That's the only question of any importance. The trends seem to suggest that there are young people hearing a call from God to actively engage the precious and living heritage - Tradition - of God's Holy Church and launch Her to the future. A future of growth collecting God's children into Catholic unity.

Your post signifies that threads like these can be uplifting as well!  :-)  Here's to the "glass half full" crowd!
34 posted on 11/02/2003 9:00:27 PM PST by GirlShortstop
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To: Loyalist
Starting from the nadir of the post-Vatican II mess is a great way to make a dead-cat bounce look like real growth.

Bingo!

The implications for the Church that the extinction of women's religious orders raises are too many to count, but they are horrible.

"Extinction" is not too strong a word to use.

35 posted on 11/03/2003 6:50:19 AM PST by Maximilian
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To: GirlShortstop
The eternal cynic Deacon notwithstanding, and GDP aside, the US will always have "enough" priests.

But the definition of the term "enough" is a bit slippery, eh?
36 posted on 11/03/2003 7:22:04 AM PST by ninenot (Democrats make mistakes. RINOs don't correct them.--Chesterton (adapted by Ninenot))
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To: ninenot
I know for a fact they the numbers are up at Sacred Heart Seminary in Detroit. That goes for those within the Diocese. They are almost to a man much more orthodox than what was there just five or six years ago.
37 posted on 12/20/2003 4:07:23 AM PST by Diva
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To: Maximilian
The increase in seminarians is up from the very lowest point when there were virtually none as a percentage of Catholics worldwide. But it's still not nearly enough to replace the dying generation that represents the last of the pre-Vatican remnant.

This is probably true and given the very real circumstance that these seminarians tend to be more conservative than those priests who are in their 40s,50s and 60s. The Church in the US is in for a "retooling" and these brand new priests are in for much sacrifice and contention but then it wouldn't be the first time in Church history.

38 posted on 12/20/2003 4:13:31 AM PST by Diva
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To: Longshanks
I spoke to Michael Rose about Sacred Heart Seminary in Detroit. While I think his assessment was accurate it was a situation that existed 5 or more years ago and something Cardinal Maida was trying to fix. Rose said he had heard things were better and I hope one day he will be able to write another book which speaks of improvement, until then I will pray for better priests. The situation in Detroit was pretty bad, St. John Seminary was one of the worst in the country and the process of correction started back in the 80s with Cardinal Szoka (sp?) when he closed St. John as a Seminary and moved the faculty and seminarians into Sacred Heart. You can argue about how long it is taking to clean up the mess but I am very pleased it is taking place otherwise I doubt there would be any seminarians.
39 posted on 12/20/2003 4:33:46 AM PST by Diva
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To: sinkspur
At least a guy gets three squares a day in a seminary on a continent where abject poverty is the rule and with little hope for a man with an IQ over 90. Priests don't starve.

I only know several of these priests, one in particular who is in this country because the dictator was out to kill him. He had already lost several brothers to the tender mercies of the dictator's thugs. Very intelligent and tireless in his efforts to keep the French government informed of the effects their support for this dictator is having on the people of his country. Very sad stories of mothers giving up their babies to the river in hopes someone downstream will be able to care for them. While it is probably true there are some becoming priests in Africa because they think it will be an easier life, there are many who become priests and make daily sacrifices we in this country can't even imagine.

40 posted on 12/20/2003 4:49:01 AM PST by Diva
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To: ninenot
Half full, half empty, it doesn't matter. The Lord is alive and well and His Will will be done.
41 posted on 12/20/2003 8:16:50 AM PST by tiki
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To: tiki; BlackElk; sinkspur; NYer; Sursum Corda; SoothingDave; Aquinasfan
Just got word this AM that Detroit will ordain NINE men this spring.

By coincidence, they all came to the Seminary during the Rector-ship of (now-Bishop of Oakland) Vigneron--a stout, hearty, and most Catholic fellow.
42 posted on 12/20/2003 12:15:24 PM PST by ninenot (So many cats, so few recipes)
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