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“How Bishops Discourage Vocations (and the Key to Attracting Them)”
Inside The Vatican ^ | Aug/Sep 2005 | John Mallon

Posted on 09/08/2005 1:37:09 PM PDT by NYer

In the mid 1990s, I attended a clergy meeting in the diocese where I was employed as the newspaper editor. The meeting was to discuss ideas to increase vocations to the priesthood, because the diocese was facing a crisis. Predictably, the discussion was going nowhere until the retired archbishop raised his hand, stood up and said, “Why don’t we study those dioceses which are attracting vocations, like Lincoln, Nebraska, and Arlington, Virginia, and see what they are doing and what we can learn from that” I smiled to myself, eager to see the response to his suggestion, because I knew that the reason those dioceses were attracting so many vocations would be utterly unacceptable to this group of priests. Predictably, the priests just looked at each other and said nothing. No one responded to the archbishop’s suggestion.

The answer was obvious. I may have even taken the retired archbishop aside and told him, but I suspect he already knew. The plain simple answer was that the bishops of those dioceses, Bishops Fabian Bruskewitz of Lincoln and the late John Keating of Arlington, were both explicitly, vocally and publicly committed to orthodoxy in Catholic teaching and practice. Meanwhile, the dominant priests of this diocese were known for being firmly committed to dissent.

Leaving aside the question of whether the Lord is going to bless dissent with abundant vocations is the other more practical question of what young man, firmly committed to and in love with the Lord and His Church, is going to seek ordination in a diocese where the clergy has a reputation for chewing up orthodox people, both clerical and lay, and spitting them out? Martyrdom is sometimes inevitable, but what sane person seeks it?

There is no reason a young man wanting to serve the Lord should be expected to put up with the nonsense of running the gauntlet of dissent and homosexuality in the seminary only then to face constant vexation and opposition from his fellow clergy once ordained.

The young man attracted to priesthood today is not the “young Turk”of the 1960s who enshrines rebellion and views the Church as part of the “establishment.”

No, today’s youthful instinct to be countercultural takes the form of orthodoxy, and sees the mission of the Church as an uphill battle in a hostile world. Youth is attracted to challenge and orthodox Catholicism offers it. It was their siblings who were murdered in the womb by the Culture of Death. They are the survivors and motivated to oppose what once threatened their lives in the name of “liberation.”

Their youthful rebellion is engaged in the battle against the world, the flesh, and the devil. They never knew a time when abortion was not legal and they never knew another Pope besides John Paul II. The mainstream media was baffled to see the seminarians from the North American College in Rome cheering wildly at the election of Benedict XVI, who is just as much their hero and champion as John Paul II.

And this does not only apply to men. In the 1980s, I knew a young woman at Boston College who expressed an interest in the convent to one of the feminist nun chaplains, who chimed, “Oh, I know a great place! You don’t have to wear a habit or anything-but ... oh,”she caught herself, “maybe you want to wear a habit..”“Yes, Sister, I do,”the young woman replied.

Twenty years later, perhaps it is beginning to dawn on some mid-level Church authorities that dissenters are not producing any progeny or followers - spiritual children. I call this ecclesiastical contraception. How can you inspire lifelong commitment and sacrifice in others to a Church you are constantly at war with?

Still, dissenters disparage the younger generation as “too conservative”What these young people seek to conserve is human life, sanity and Western Civilization, all of which are under attack from modern liberalism.

Jesus Christ is still producing followers who deserve to take their place in the Church and not be treated as crackpots and undesirables.

There is a solidarity among the orthodox youth, which John Paul II wisely and shrewdly nurtured as the future of the Church in his World Youth Days and his plain, simple love for them, which was direct and unmediated.

I have glimpsed this phenomenon first hand.

When I worked and studied theology at Boston College in the 1980s, there was a widely celebrated theology department, boastful of its dissent. The professors counted their undergraduate theology majors in the single digits. When I sought my master’s degree in theology at Franciscan University of Steubenville, a university explicit in its orthodoxy, and ridiculed for it by larger schools, it had a smaller theology faculty but the largest number of undergraduates in the country, at the time, as I recall, 140.

At the Jesuit-run Boston College, I do not recall many students pursuing a religious vocation. I recall two who did who received hostility from the Jesuits - for their orthodoxy. At Steubenville, there were so many vocations they started a pre-theologate program, and a group for young women considering the convent.

This worldwide community of youth nurtured by John Paul II is acutely well aware of what is going on in the Church and in dioceses around the world. When a bishop makes a strong statement in defense of orthodoxy, those young people inclined to religious vocations talk among themselves as to whether his diocese might be a good one in which to seek ordination. If that same bishop does something perceived as compromising the faith, their interest is withdrawn. A bishop who tolerates dissent is not even considered. A bishop willing to excommunicate pro-abortion Catholic politicians is likely to receive much interest from these young people. A bishop who waffles will not. A diocese which punishes good, orthodox priests or lay professionals while coddling or protecting dissenters will not. A diocese which punishes whistle-blowers while protecting abusers and active homosexuals in the clergy will not. A diocese where the bishop is ostensibly orthodox in his words but where the chancery, departments and clergy are dominated or ruled by dissenters will not.

The extent of this orthodox youth underground is truly worldwide. I have encountered it in all my travels throughout North America and Europe. I have bumped into students I knew in Steubenville in St. Peter’s Square and in St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna. A constant topic of discussion among those considering ordination or religious life is which dioceses and bishops are “good”(i.e. orthodox). It is also important that the seminary a bishop uses is committed to solid Catholic formation and free of harassment, either sexual or religious, and that the bishop monitor it closely.

There is no secret to attracting vocations. There are plenty of them out there. A bishop who tolerates dissent and ignores abuses will not attract them. A bishop who boldly stands up for Christ and His Church, and Church teachings, despite all costs and opposition, will attract them.

These young people are the future of the Church. Whether or not they are welcomed into their rightful place to which the Lord is calling them lies in the hands of each individual bishop.

TOPICS: Activism; Apologetics; Catholic; Current Events; General Discusssion; Ministry/Outreach; Moral Issues; Religion & Culture; Theology; Worship
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To: InterestedQuestioner

1. Bishops want more priests
2. It is demonstrable that seminaries develop more priests
in orthodox dioceses.
3. Therefore, bishops support unorthodoxy in their dioceses.
1. Bishops do not want more priests.
2. It is demonstrable that seminaries develop more priests
in orthodox dioceses.
3. Therefore, bishops support unorthodoxy in their dioceses.
Which one is more logical?

41 posted on 09/09/2005 11:30:08 AM PDT by charliemarlow
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To: Salvation
The guardian angels of many a young man have kept them safe from the evil one
and that includes keeping them safe from wherever evil is in control.

Get rid of the resident minions of the demon controlling a seminary, a chancery or a See, and then young men will come forward. Until then, their guardian angels will keep most of these souls safely away from the dogs whom scripture tells us to beware.

42 posted on 09/09/2005 12:14:10 PM PDT by Maeve (They caught the last train for the coast.)
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To: charliemarlow

Thanks for your post. I don't know Bishop McCarrick, and I'm having some difficulty following your reasoning. In response to your comments, one does indeed wonder if some who have worked for the Church would prefer a total and debilitating vocations crisis in order to use an emergency to push through their own agendas and "open up" the priesthood. It's also been argued that those who would "change the Church from within" discourage faithful vocations, while selecting for wolves in sheep's clothing.

I do, however, think it sounds reasonable that young men are more likely to answer their calling if they are directly asked to do so, whether it be by the Bishop, a priest, or fellow parishioners. On the other hand, heterodoxy sounds like a perfect recipe for demoralizing those considering or pursuing a vocation, and not surprisingly, it stands to reasons that it would motivate them to question their calling. Kind of Like Elisha en route to his cave, one might want to get out of dodge when heterodoxy or worse is present.
43 posted on 09/09/2005 1:56:21 PM PDT by InterestedQuestioner ("Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.")
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To: RobbyS
You know what's interesting, RobbyS, there were a bunch of folks getting a lot of press about "ordaining" ex-nuns to the "priesthood" on riverboats earlier this summer. I haven't heard so much as a whisper from those folks lately. I think they had a sensationalistic story that made for good press, but the interest seems to be totally gone now. Soon their movement will be gone as well.

Catholic eras can be defined by which heresy the Church happens to be fighting at that time, and I think we may be seeing the death rattle of one such heresy.

As for the ex-nuns, presumably they went back to holding seances and giving each other Reiki classes.
44 posted on 09/09/2005 2:04:31 PM PDT by InterestedQuestioner ("Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.")
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To: InterestedQuestioner

They are getting old. Since they have destroyed their orders, there are no young women to carry on their cause.

45 posted on 09/09/2005 2:08:26 PM PDT by RobbyS ( CHIRHO)
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To: RobbyS

I used to know so many good nuns, how has such an extraordinarly group been brought to such a pass so quickly. Mother Angelica's group is setting us all straight, and the Sisters of Charity have inspired us all, but how have so many venerable orders been brought so low so fast?

46 posted on 09/09/2005 2:12:51 PM PDT by InterestedQuestioner ("Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.")
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That's a beautiful post, thank you.

47 posted on 09/09/2005 2:17:12 PM PDT by InterestedQuestioner ("Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.")
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To: RobbyS
Very true. I went to a Catholic high school run by a group of nuns. They were, for the most part, "Sister Sweatpants" types - though at least they didn't promote outright occultic practices like I've heard some nuns do. Some of the very old ones were still solid, wore habits, and such but they had little contact with the students. While many of these nuns were fine teachers of various academic disciplines, when it came to conveying the faith they were very lukewarm. They taught us nothing of substance about the faith, didn't give us any reason to think Catholicism is any different than any other religion, and most importantly they didn't give us any reason to see why consecrated celibacy was special. There was nothing about their lives that would draw a young woman to religious life because their lives were so average. They didn't wear habits, they didn't seem enthusiastic about Christ, and their convent looked more like a comfortable middle class home (albeit one stuck in 1980s decor) than a Christian oasis in a chaotic world. We students went to the convent sometimes to watch movies on their big screen TV and I often thought while I was there if being a nun like this was something I'd like to do. Even though I was not terribly devout in high school, I still knew right away that this all seemed pointless. Why would I give up a husband and children for this mundane, worldly life? I could do the same things - teach at a high school, be lukewarm about the faith, live in a comfy little home, etc - and still be married with children. There was nothing special about life in this convent. No wonder they failed to attract any young women. The youngest nun at my school was in her early 30s at the time (she would be around 40 by now) and she was the exception, not the rule, for that order.
48 posted on 09/09/2005 2:35:57 PM PDT by sassbox
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To: NYer

Great article!!!

49 posted on 09/09/2005 2:41:45 PM PDT by diamond6 (Everyone who is for abortion has already been born. Ronald Reagan)
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To: sassbox

If you haven't, read some of what the present Holy Father has written, sich as "Salt of the Earth," which is a long interview. I was surprised. He is quite blunt in his assessments. To oversimpify, he dismisses the "reformers" as simply banal, bourgeois types who are in love with their own ideas, and unattractive to anyone with an ounce of idealism.

50 posted on 09/09/2005 9:50:37 PM PDT by RobbyS ( CHIRHO)
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To: NYer

Here in Los Angeles, aka Mahonyland, there was a grand total of FOUR priests ordained this year, out of a Catholic population of 4.5 million.

Two of the new priests were born in Vietnam (one of them is 61 years old), another priest is 60 years old and was born in England, and the only one from Los Angeles is 46 years old. That's it.

And a nun is in charge of the Vocations Office.

Connect the dots.

51 posted on 09/10/2005 10:11:13 AM PDT by Deo volente
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