Pope Francis arrives at the annual Bishops' Conference in the Synod Hall at the Vatican on May 21, 2018. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

Pope laments 'hemorrhaging' of priests and nuns in Europe

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis voiced alarm Monday (May 21) at the "hemorrhaging" of nuns and priests in Italy and Europe, saying God only knows how many seminaries, monasteries, convents and churches will close because fewer people are being called to lives of religious service.

Francis told Italy's bishops he was concerned about the "crisis of vocations" in a region of the world that once was one of the biggest sources of Catholic missionaries. He said Italy and Europe were entering a period of "vocational sterility" to which he wasn't sure a solution exists.

The number of Catholic priests worldwide declined by 136 to 415,656 in 2015, the last year for which data is available. But according to Vatican statistics, the decrease was greatest in Europe, where there were 2,502 fewer priests compared with 2014. The number was offset by increases in priestly vocations in Africa and Asia, where the church as a whole is growing.

During the same period, the number of baptized Catholics rose globally from 1.27 million to nearly 1.29 million, meaning the ratio of Catholics to the priests available to minister to them is growing.

In a speech to an annual assembly of the Italian bishops conference Monday, Francis blamed the priest shortage on such factors as demographic changes, scandals in the church and cultural trends that dissuade young people from making lifelong commitments and make them value instead the "dictatorship of money."

"How many seminaries, churches, monasteries and convents will be closed in the next few years?" he asked. "God only knows."

Francis has already said the church must study whether it's possible to ordain married men of proven faith, so-called "viri probati," to minister in remote communities facing priest shortages.

The "viri probati" proposal has been around for decades but has drawn fresh attention under history's first Latin American pope thanks in part to his appreciation of the challenges facing the church in places such as Brazil, a huge Catholic country with an acute shortage of priests.

The proposal is likely to be discussed at a 2019 meeting of the world's bishops to discuss the Amazon region, where the church counts around one priest for every 10,000 Catholics.


  1. Yes, humanity is growing up. This is excellent news.

  2. With some exceptions, of course, as reading the comments demonstrates.

  3. True, but give it time. You’ll get there.

  4. “During the same period, the number of baptized Catholics rose globally from 1.27 million to nearly 1.29 million”

    Religion is not going anywhere anytime soon – at least on a global scale. All I care about is seeing the number of fundamentalists (all religions) decline. That’ll make me happy.

  5. Where is “there”?

    Pseudo-atheist humanism?

    Crypto-fascist gainsaying?

  6. Maybe the church needs to allow older men to train and serve as permanent deacons, as a starting point

  7. Let’s see: here’s a profession most closely associated with a child rape scandal of monumental proportion, one which does not allow you to marry or have children (unless of course you were an Episcopal priest first, in which case, you can come right on in), doesn’t pay well, and requires you to be celibate for the rest of your life because that supposedly allows you to spend more time with your parishioners (even though sex and marriage were allowed to priests for the first 1000 years of the church’s existence.) What’s not to love?

  8. And the Great Kibosh continues to roll on: (only for those eye who have not seen)

    Putting the kibosh on all religion in less than ten seconds: Priceless !!!

    • As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Abraham i.e. the foundations of Judaism, Christianity and Islam are non-existent.

    • As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Moses i.e the pillars of Judaism, Christianity and Islam have no strength of purpose.

    • There was no Gabriel i.e. Islam fails as a religion. Christianity partially fails.

    • There was no Easter i.e. Christianity completely fails as a religion.

    • There was no Moroni i.e. Mormonism is nothing more than a business cult.

    • Sacred/revered cows, monkey gods, castes, reincarnations and therefore Hinduism fails as a religion.

    • Fat Buddhas here, skinny Buddhas there, reincarnated/reborn Buddhas everywhere makes for a no on Buddhism.

    • A constant cycle of reincarnation until enlightenment is reached and belief that various beings (angels?, tinkerbells? etc) exist that we, as mortals, cannot comprehend makes for a no on Sikhism.

    Added details available upon written request.

    A quick search will put the kibosh on any other groups calling themselves a religion.

    e.g. Taoism

    “The origins of Taoism are unclear. Traditionally, Lao-tzu who lived in the sixth century is regarded as its founder. Its early philosophic foundations and its later beliefs and rituals are two completely different ways of life. Today (1982) Taoism claims 31,286,000 followers.

    Legend says that Lao-tzu was immaculately conceived by a shooting star; carried in his mother’s womb for eighty-two years; and born a full grown wise old man. “

  9. Since your screeds always stray right off the rails into your usual obsessive-compulsive blather, you obviously write them in advance and wait for a target of opportunity. A bit pathetic, isn’t it, not to mention transparent?

    Taoism? Come on. Now you’re just getting lazy. At least pretend to read the article.

  10. I believe I’ve read this tripe somewhere before – multiple times.

  11. If your policies on hiring are stuck in the 13th century with seven hundred years of corporate culture built around it, no wonder there is a shortage.

    Nearly all forms of Christianity are growing in the underdeveloped parts of the world. Many of these new Christians and their children will be shopping for churches that meet their needs and have the personnel to help.. These societies have multiple churches to choose from unlike Europe in the old days when there was only one version allowed.

  12. I’m a faithful Catholic who loves his Church, but I’ve become convinced that the culture of paternalism within Catholicism is a cancer. Every problem in the Church today can be traced, in one way or another, to the failure to heed Jesus’ advice in Matthew 23. It’s nothing short of tragic.

  13. Your first sentence seems to indicate you’re writing about the public school teaching profession.

    It also seems to disregard the married priests in the Catholic Church.

    And so on.

  14. Nearly all forms of Christianity are growing in the underdeveloped parts of the world, including as the article notes Catholicism.

    So, perhaps the problem is Europe, not the church.

  15. Using the term, “As far as one knows or can tell” is a hedge phrase used by those who are not 100% confident in the accuracy of their statement.
    Therefore, bullet points one and two are invalid arguments.
    Therefore, Judaism, Christianity and Islam exist and have strength of purpose.

  16. Europeans have more options then those in the third world for a profession and an education. The article still talks about one priest for 10,000 members. That is not a good ratio if a church is serious about giving its members adequate spiritual support. Competing churches might have one cleric for every 300 or 400 hundred members. Something to think about. I have attended Roman Churches where the priest is foreign, does not understand the local culture and has a very heavy accent. I wonder how much the congregants can relate to the individual or how much he can relate to their needs and culture.

  17. The article speaks of about one priest for 10,000 members in Latin America.

  18. Indeed it is a pity that paternalism has plagued the churches for so long. The really sad part is that Jesus himself exalted women, cared for them, defended them, loved them, and after he died women held positions of high leadership in the church.

    But paternalism was too deeply entrenched in the Jewish tradition of first century Palestine and it could not ultimately be overcome. All of the egalitarianism that marked early Christianity was swept away after only a few hundred years and it was back to business as usual.

    Only now, in 2018, are we having a “metoo# movement,” even though women’s lib emerged a half century ago with Betty Friedan’s “The Feminist Mystique,” the pill, bra-burning, and the rest. That was all swept away when Ronald Reagan, the Moral Majority, Phyllis Schlaffly, et al. ordered women back home from work into their “proper place” in the home: barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen.

    Jesus said, “the poor you will always have with you.” Apparently in the church, paternalism will always be present as well. It’s not going away any time soon, mainly because not enough women rise up in sufficient numbers to resist it. As long as they remain compliant paternalism will remain.

  19. Take up your disagreement with 1.2 million Conservative Jews, their rabbis and their exegetes.

  20. I agree, but I was referring to more than the Church’s treatment of women. The attitude of the hierarchy toward the laity in general has created an unhealthy power structure that has now reached critical mass.

    Every major problem in the Church today — clerical child abuse and it’s cover-up, clericalism, triumphalism, the fallacy that priests are ontologically different from other human beings, the moribund way bishops are selected, the list goes on — can be traced to the culture of paternalism within the Church.

    The Holy Spirit still has surprises in store, I’m sure. But, from my limited perspective, the way ahead seems clear. The culture of the Church must change or the Church will cease to exist.

  21. The Great Kibosh rules the day.

    As a good student, you have read the reiterations of the “fems” (Flaws, Errors, Muck
    and Stench) of religion.

    Therefore the seeds have been planted in rich soil. Go therefore and preach the truth to all
    nations, reiterating as you go amongst the lost, bred, born and brainwashed souls
    of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism as Rational Thinking makes its triumphant return all because of

  22. I agree with everything you say, but the Holy Spirit can only operate when hearts remain open. Whenever we are so completely certain that our way is the only way our hearts are closed and the Spirit has no room to move within us. I see that happening in your church’s hierarchy. And yes, your church will die if nothing changes. It’s already happening.

  23. Thankfully, history shows otherwise. The Spirit will have the Spirit’s way, recalcitrant hearts notwithstanding. Creation happens, sometimes violently, and it will not be stopped.

    I don’t pretend to know where the Holy Spirit’s guidance will lead, but I do believe — to my core — in Jesus’ promise that the Spirit will remain with us.

    Moving on. Peace.

  24. I don’t pretend to know where the Holy Spirit’s guidance will lead, but I do believe — to my core — in Jesus’ promise that the Spirit will remain with us.

    Of that I have no doubt. Whether the church will remain to be an agent of the Spirit is another matter.

  25. Speaking of brainwashing, have you ever had an original thought, or are you content to ape the ideas of your atheist betters?

    It’s not your point of view I find offensive. It’s that you’re content to stand on the shoulders of others and spout the same predictable twaddle over and over. But for what purpose? Your imagined ‘Great Kibosh’?

    Hate to break it to you, sport, but if the best you’ve got is posting prepackaged messages in an RNS combox, your kibosh is neither great nor, for that matter, much of a kibosh.

    Moving on. Parrot away. Time for you to trot out the old ‘rigorous historic testing’ line again, isn’t it?

  26. This should not be a surprise. The Catholic Church has been running out of priests for a long time, and I could never understand why a woman would really want to be a nun. Between the idea that a man can’t be married and still lead a flock, and the fact that nuns can find paying jobs better that serving the church, is an obvious factor. And, of course, their are less people in the pews as religion ceases to actually serve a purpose for many.

  27. Interesting admission from frank.

    “God only knows how many seminaries, monasteries, convents and churches will close because fewer people are being called to lives of religious service.”

    Who calls people to the priesthood? God. That’s why they term it a “vocation”, a literal calling from god. So god isn’t calling people to the church any more? Hmmmmmm.

    Or could it be that in the last 100 years or so, we have lived increasingly to urban societies, Highly mobile societies, societies where the people you know aren’t the people you grew up with, but many different kinds of people from many backgrounds and many faiths.

    Maybe many people have figured out that they don’t need religion, nor a fear of a vengeful god who loves you so much that he invented hell just in case you don’t love him back, nor a fear of death, nor a fear of life, nor yet another entity which sells them religion in exchange for their cash and submission.

  28. And God simply never calls women to be priests under any circumstance, right?…and never calls men to be nuns!

    So we have a sexist God, among his other failings.

  29. Nah. He likes the wimmins, as long as they know their place.

  30. -> “How many seminaries, churches, monasteries and convents will be closed in the next few years?” he asked. “God only knows.”

    No, in the Vatican, and across the world, the RCC bureaucracy know exactly what gets closed and when. They do the planning years in advance.

    Near my old home town, they planned for St. Francis school to close and to share priests with another parish, a few years ahead of time. God isn’t making these decisions.

  31. In the 40’s and 50’s, every Catholic family wanted to produce at least one priest and one nun. And many of them did.
    Then in the late 60’s and early 70’s, the nuns started coming home. Looking back, this was one of the first signs that the Church was in trouble.

  32. The brainwashed Christin peons have been parroting the NT for centuries. The Great Kibosh will continue as part of the rigorous historic testing of all religions to silence the idiocy of all religious parrots.

  33. And rigorous historic testing of all religions rules the day as demonstated by said reductions and closings. Allaluia!

  34. “Who calls people to the priesthood? God. That’s why they term it a “vocation”, a literal calling from god.”

    Were it a literal calling from a deity, the deity would leave something in writing, or at least a phone message.

    The term you’re missing is “discernment”, and you’re missing it because you’re writing on a topic you know nothing at all about.

    “So god isn’t calling people to the church any more?”

    What seems to have happened is that folks not much different than yourself in many ways have overrun Europe, which has scrapped its Judeo-Christian-natural law background in favor of a porridge of neo-pagan drivel.

    In short, no one is listening any more.

    “Maybe people are increasing discovering that they can live perfectly normal, moral, productive, happy lives without resorting to religion.”

    Or, maybe people are about to find out the opposite.

  35. Unless you understand the theology behind the first, is there a reason why you feel empowered to comment on it?

  36. Overall it is not running out of priests.

  37. Well, this…A big chuck of my life at St. Rose of Lima church and school, an altar boy, in CYO, conservative Catholic family, mind-numbing catechism classes, the Catholic works…

    I do understand it all…which is why I threw it all overboard, good riddance!. So I do feel empowered to both comment and warn others about this nonsense…and laugh a bit at this speculative God’s frailties !!

  38. I’m not expecting an answer. I only hope that you read and consider this.

    While I have no doubt that the Holy Spirit leads us where we ought to go, I also believe that God gives us free will. From personal experience and from history, I know that human beings often act contrary to the will of the Spirit. I believe that is what is happening now. Such contrary behavior often leads to seriously bad results. Although God’s will wins out in the end, the process can involve the destruction of institutions. I fear that if the hierarchs are unable to get their act together very soon, and unless they start working together with the Holy Spirit, instead of against her, that the institutional Church may fall apart

  39. Ordain women…Equal rites…WWJD in 2018 on this pastoral issue? Come Holy Spirit and enlighten the Roman Catholic ordained leaders with inclusion of women to ordained ministry in the RCC. Amen

  40. I agree wholeheartedly.

    I am glad that i happened on this comment site, because now I can converse with NCR friends.

  41. “a porridge of neo-pagan drivel”

    A wonderful insight into the historical dynamic of Roman Catholicism.

  42. So, in summary you don’t understand the theology behind it.

  43. More accurately, a wonderful insight into your approach to matters religious, and the problems facing Europe.

  44. Bob, not paying well might apply, but how are you tying rape scandals of monumental proportions and lifelong celibacy into public school teaching? That seems like you might have an irrational bone to pick with teachers.

  45. No, as many pundits and commentators have pointed out, the rate of abuse per school teacher is higher – much higher – than the rate of abuse per priest.

    Life-long celibacy, of course, is a red herring.

    So, if he is worked up about “a profession most closely associated with … child rape”, and is driven by facts, it would be more likely he is writing about the profession of teaching than the profession of the priesthood.

  46. I understand the incoherence of the theology, all too well.

  47. I’m so glad you used a feminine pronoun to describe the Holy Spirit. From what I gather, there’s a long history of doing this in the eastern church. It’s a practice that ought to be revived.

  48. The problem with the Roman Catholic Church and the child rape scandal is the institution-wide cover-up, starting at the very top, which the Cloyne Report from Ireland clearly documented. There is no evidence that any such institution-wide cover-up has ever been orchestrated by the American public school system.

    Red herring, my foot.

  49. Still waiting for you to clarify bullet points one and two.

  50. Correction:

    “Unless you understand [are gullible enough to accept] the theology behind the first, is there a reason why you feel empowered to comment on it?”

  51. Given that is their church and their priests and their theology, what is your particular axe to grind other than contempt for religion in general or them in particular?

  52. There are in excess of 5,000 bishops, one would expect to find dozens of prosecutions and conviction for cover-up.

    There are not. In fact the first one I encountered was in Australia, a country with a long history of anti-Catholicism, in a case which would not have gone to trial in the USA:


    Most of what are being characterized as “cover-ups” involved bishops making bad decisions, the most egregious one being sending the offender off for “treatment” and placing him back in an active ministry after being “cured”.

    None of the quacks who offered these nostrums have been charged.

    Entire dioceses – Lincoln, Nebraska for example – had not one case because it avoided the mental health folks and instead followed Canon Law.

    There is no evidence that any such institution-wide cover-up has taken place (“orchestrated” is unproven) by “the American public school system” because there is no American public school system, but great number of local school systems.


    “Hofstra University researcher Charol Shakeshaft looked into the problem, and the first thing that came to her mind when Education Week reported on the study were the daily headlines about the Catholic Church.”

    “‘[T]hink the Catholic Church has a problem?’ she said. ‘The physical sexual abuse of students in schools is likely more than 100 times the abuse by priests.’”

    But you don’t have an axe to grind against public schools as you do for the Catholic Church.

  53. Since a goodly portion of what the Holy Spirit is purported to be doing is contrary to the revelation, following your prescription may cause the “institutional Church” (whatever that might be) to fall apart.

    The Episcopal Church in the United States might be an example.

  54. Since you can’t explain the theology in the first place, attributing incoherence to its cuts no ice.

  55. Did that already with my listing of the conclusions from the New Torah for Modern Minds.

  56. Traditional religious orders are growing and are ordaining many priests. If PF is really worried about
    fewer priests perhaps he should stop closing orders that are providing the Church with good priests. No, PF Is not worried at all …the shortage of priests can be used to change Church teaching and discipline
    which he seems to enjoy.

  57. Conservative Jews and rabbis do not feel that Judaism has no strength of purpose. That is a conclusion YOU are overlaying onto THEIR faith.

  58. What he has is an irrational bone to pick with people who are not religious, or prone to look at people who claim to be religious and to represent god with the same scrutiny that he applies to public school teachers.

  59. Based on the near empty temples, THEIR faith (Conservative and the remaining sects) is going “belly-up”.

  60. The RCC may, but Christ’s church will never die

  61. When NCR started to tamper with their comments, they lost so much.

  62. I entered a women’s religious community about a decade ago, and left right before first vows because there is so much dysfunction, so much duality, not nurturing/supportive that the longer I stayed the further I got the impression that they were not serving God.

  63. As usual, Ben, whatever side of the bed you’re posting from today…

    No, anyone who says something different than my authority is not “a m-ron, st-pid, ignorant, and so on”, although I am increasingly entertaining that conclusion relative to you. Oh, and btw, you left out “poopy head”.

    The 15th century English word “vocation” comes from the Old French vocacion “call, consecration; calling, profession” from Latin vocationem (nominative vocatio), literally “a calling, a being called” from vocatus “called,” past participle of vocare “to call”. Its use in the sense of “one’s occupation or profession” is first attested 1550s.

    Since you mentioned it in your negative assessment of Catholics and/or Catholicism, Catholicism


    “An ecclesiastical or religious vocation is the special gift of those who, in the Church of God, follow with a pure intention the ecclesiastical profession of the evangelical counsels. The elements of this vocation are all the interior and exterior helps, the efficacious graces which have led to the taking of the resolution, and all the graces which produce meritorious perseverance.”

    Since God does not leave voice mails, engraved invitations, or draft notices, a genuine vocation is identified through a process of discernment.

    “The question of vocation itself so far as the candidate is concerned may be put in these terms: Are you doing a thing which is pleasing to God in offering yourself to the seminary or the novitiate? And the answer depends on the preceding data: yes, if your intention is honest, and if your strength is sufficient for the work. A further question may be put to the candidate for the priesthood: if you do well in desiring to become a priest, would you perhaps do better by becoming a religious? It is to be remarked that the candidate for the priesthood ought already to have the virtues required by his state, while the hope of acquiring them is sufficient for the candidate for the religious life.”

    And so procedures are in place to assist both the church and the candidate to determine whether this is in fact a call or a whim or something else.

    Since it does not involve direct revelation (voice mails, engraved invitations, or draft notices), it is imperfect. Mistakes are made on both sides – the church and the candidate. Current procedures in the USA usually include a psychological evaluation, for example.

    Laxity on the parts of bishops, particularly in failing to follow Canon Law dealing with candidates for Holy Orders, can lead to all sorts of problems.

    For example, Rembert George Weakland who served as Archbishop of Milwaukee from 1977 to 2002 conducted a s-xual relationship with a male while in office. He permitted individuals to be ordained who lacked the basic requirements, particularly maturity, and as a result the Archdiocese of Milwaukee was forced into bankruptcy in 2011 with at least 550 claims against it by those alleging being abused.


    “So god isn’t calling people to the church any more? Hmmmmmm.”

    is a number of steps removed from the process.

    In a neo-pagan society where the temptations are very high and religion scorned, the odds are against an actual call from God being heard over the din.

  64. So, in short, even when I’m right, I’m still wrong. Well, Who am I to argue against the author of the holy Boble.

  65. “Pseudo-atheist humanism”

    Do you have any idea what you think you mean by this?

  66. “During the same period, the number of baptized Catholics rose globally from 1.27 million to nearly 1.29 million,”

    Still too many IMO – but shouldn’t that be “billion”?

    – – – – – – –
    “He said Italy and Europe were entering a period of “vocational sterility” to which he wasn’t sure a solution exists”

    ” God only knows how many seminaries, monasteries, convents and churches will close because fewer people are being called to lives of religious service.”

    Surely a faux-problem since, presumably, his God is content with the situation, otherwise it would simply call more (male) people.

  67. Actually you’re close to correct.

    Who exactly are you to argue?

  68. Wrong again and moving the goalposts anyway. Conservative and Reform have contracted, but demographically Orthodox are doing okay.

  69. If you do not allow completely anonymous comments, you do not allow freedom.

    This is trash.

  70. “…there’s a long history of doing this in the eastern church.”

    Perhaps you are thinking that because the Greek word for spirit (“pnevma”) – and hence used in the Greek Orthodox Church – is feminine in gender. On the other hand, the Slavonic word for spirit (“duxh”) -and hence used in the Slavonic Orthodox Churches -, is masculine.

    In any case, Eastern Christians do NOT teach that the Holy Spirit is female. Neither do they teach that it is male. Gender is a property of (some) languages, but God is beyond all created distinctions (such as gender).

  71. One way to increase vocations might be for the Catholic Church to allow clergy to marry. Limiting vocations to the celibate is a sure way of selecting for those who are not of the marrying kind, and we can see what that has led to.

  72. Yes, that’s right. Confusing my Greek and Hebrew there, after all these years!

    Good link. I would agree with the conclusion: “Thus, what the early Syriac writers emphasized through this maternal imagery is not a femininity of the Spirit, but rather the feminine-maternal function of the Spirit towards Christians, the children of God.”

    Although clearly outside the parameters of the article, interesting connections could be drawn between the imagery of the Spirit, the Church, and the Theotokos – all feminine images.

  73. May an institutional breakdown lead to a Vatican II breakthrough.

    We beseech thee, Lord.

  74. “The culture of the Church must change or the Church will cease to exist.”

    I think the institution may cease to exist and the Church will have a new face for all the reasons you’ve mentioned.

  75. “…your church will die if nothing changes.”

    Let’s hope so.

    From death comes the prospect of new life. Vatican II stressed ecclesial renewal, something the institution very much needs.

  76. “I fear that…the institutional Church may fall apart.”

    FEAR not. We need a breakdown for any chance of a breakthrough. The Church of Rome desperately needs renewal, the main theme of Vatican II.

  77. Thanks for the backgrounder.

  78. Thanks for addl. information.

  79. The problem is the institutional church in Europe.

  80. Thanks, Joseph. It’s good to find you here, as well.

  81. “Who calls people to the priesthood? God.”

    According to a retired Catholic University of America professor, the traditional understanding in Catholicism has been that it is the Church, not God, that has called men to the priesthood. Otherwise, as he noted, what might stop a guy from showing up at the papal ambassador’s door and saying, “God is calling me to be a bishop”?

    (The professor’s blogging comment is no longer available at COMMONWEAL Magazine’s website since its blog feature was discontinued more than a year ago.)

  82. Understanding “the theology behind it” does not mean that such theology is correct and/or makes sense.

  83. Perhaps the reference was meant to be to Sophia.

    And the feminine-maternal function cannot exist without the “femininity” function. Unless there is an immaculate conception, something has to happen happen before a woman can become a mother. The two aspects of femininity can’t be separated.

  84. The “theology behind it” is based on paternalism.

  85. Not that surprising. The least educated are the most vulnerable and easiest targets for the god fraud also known as Christianity.

  86. The church is always a problem, everywhere it is present.

  87. The Church doe need renewal. I just wish that it could have occurred in the form of an evolution. But, clearly, that is not happening.

  88. Deflections, deflections.

  89. What do you mean by your reference to “those who are not of the marrying kind”?

  90. Again, why this need to belittle those who do not believe as you do? Your beliefs are just as much beliefs as those of theists. No one has proven the non-existence of God.

  91. You seem to live to, but you are almost always wrong in your arguments.

  92. “Traditional religious orders are growing and are ordaining many priests.”

    Information source, please?

  93. JPII and B16 saw to it that Vatican II would be consigned to the back burner. I’ve heard some folks opine that the Church of Rome is facing an impending implosion. I also understand that a good number of converts do not remain within the Church: no hard data, just anecdote.

  94. It would be interesting to find out why, exactly.

    One of my theories (base to a great extent on anecdotal evidence) is that the growth of evangelical churches is somewhat illusory. Many of those who join are not really that into the theology, but value the community that is offered. I have a feeling that part of the reason that new converts leave the Catholic Church is that after the RCIA, there is little community.

  95. Yet you can’t respond substantively to it.

  96. Unfortunately, beseeching to your “Lord” never gets a response. If you disagree, present even one verifiable instance.

  97. Actually, it’s slowly dying and enroute to becoming just a sad chapter of human history.

  98. False equivalence from you there, Alexandra.

    No need to belittle. I was just presenting facts. The better educated people are, particularly in regard to critical thinking, the less religious they become, and the less vulnerable they are to religious nonsense.

    However, anyone in the modern world who hangs on to sky fairy tales such as the idiotic Christian ones deserves to be belittled for it. Openly and loudly.

    Furthermore, the non-existence of specific gods, such as the kooky Christian one, can be proven, and has been proven.

    Get over your silly sky fairy stories already and join the modern world. It’s high time.

  99. That’s Christianity for ya.

  100. Well, that would have to be the case, because there’s no god there to do the calling.

  101. SSPX, FSSP, Christ the King, Benedictines of Clear Creek., Carmelites in Wy….these are some .

  102. No one can prove the non-existence of any supernatural being. No one deserves to be belittled for their beliefs.

  103. Thank you.

    Will these communities meet the religious and spiritual needs of most lay Catholics? I’m far from convinced.

  104. We respectfully disagree (about the divinity).

  105. Substantiate something and we can go from there.

  106. As you have repeatedly never demonstrated.

  107. Apparently the least educated are easy targets for whatever fraud you adhere to.

  108. Not at all.

    Hebrews probably is the best scriptural outline of the theology.

    Of course, since you reject the content of Hebrews and Holy Orders as a sacrament, for you the entire discussion is moot.

  109. You can’t opine as to whether it is correct and/or makes sense if you don’t understand it.

  110. No, the fraud is all yours.

    That was a pretty sleazy switch you just tried to slide in with there, Bob. How typically Christian of you. You’re a slimy one.

    Just get over your disgusting sky fairy stories already. It’s high time, and Christianity is an embarrassment to humanity.

  111. Your specific Christian tall tales have been disproven. And they’re silly, as well as self-contradictory.

    Just get over them already. It’s high time.

  112. Poor comeback there. As usual, Bob, you try to slide in a slimy remark. You are pathetic, and typically Christian.

    Just get over your silly sky fairy stories already.

  113. Speaking of yourself there entirely, Bob.

  114. Rational Conclusions already did. So get to work on it yourself, for a change.

  115. Oh, yes, one can. Rome has tended to overlook human experience that gives us insight into theology insofar as it might affect human beings.

  116. HEBREWS is typology and was used to encourage Jews to join the Christianized Jewish communities and to remain within them in the face of setbacks, discouragement, etc. HEBREWS proves absolutely nothing in terms of the Gospel, i.e., Jesus’ earthly ministry and teaching.

    I don’t reject the content of HEBREWS, merely the idea that it somehow proves something that, in fact, it does not at all do.

    I don’t reject Holy Orders as a sacrament. I do think it should be recognized for what it is, namely, a human development to meet the perceived ministerial needs of Christian/Catholic communities. Jesus ordained nobody and never identified himself as any kind of priest, “High” or whatever. Perhaps what Rome should do is distinguish between sacraments derived from the Gospel and others presumably set up by ecclesial authorities to promote the Christian life.

  117. We’ve covered this before.

    No point in recapping it again.

  118. Here in Louisville, it’s been said that the largest de facto Catholic parish is Southeast Christian Church because it has supposedly attracted many disaffected Catholics.

  119. The “institutional Church” is all the cultural artifacts, values, leadership structures, etc. It should not be confused with Vatican II’s understanding of the People of God. The latter is much larger and poses a threat to JPII and B16 hierarchs and their supporters.

  120. “Overall” does not *cut the mustard* for parishes lacking sufficient clergy (or any clerics) and/or being consolidated for the same reason.

  121. I would say the church has been a problem at times — but not always or everywhere.

  122. Since you don’t believe in the sacrament of Holy Orders, and have stated you do not avail yourself of the services of Catholic clergy, I cannot imagine what difference it makes to you.

  123. Your understanding of Vatican II’s understanding of the People of God should not be confused with Vatican II’s understanding of the People of God.

  124. Based on our exchanges over time, you have very seldom relied on facts.

  125. May God has never replied, or maybe I have never perceived divine intervention.

  126. Whoops! That expression is a bit outdated since the advent of same sex marriage! Even in New Testament times they knew that not everybody was cut out for heterosexual marriage. See Matthew 19:3-12.

  127. Thank you for your clarification. Jesus was talking about the only kind of marriage his listeners knew of, to wit, heterosexual marriage. Your scriptural reference does not preclude the morality of homosexual marriage. We learn from experience. We empathize with God’s children different from us, especially when they are denied what have come to be regarded as basic human and civil rights (housing, voting, marriage, etc.). For nearly two thousand years, the Church of Rome upheld the morality of slavery based on both natural and divine law. It was not until late 1965 that Vatican II condemned the practice.

  128. I remain Catholic in my Christian faith orientation, and what we’re discussing remains important to me (especially when you and likeminded offer us orthotoxy).

  129. It’s not. Vatican II reminded Catholics, lay and ordained, that the Church is much more than just the clergy and hierarchs. It’s all of us, regardless of status. JPII and B16, unfortunately, tried to reinforce the old paradigm. By and large, Catholic laity who (still) pay the bills have not bought into their BS.

  130. Tragic misogynistic misguided avoidance of the healthy natural sex act.
    Ignominious immoral global Catholic Church sexual abuse crisis cover-up.
    Heinous financial mismanagement and debacle.

  131. Sounds like the “women’s religious community” which you joined is a member of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR).

  132. SSPX is a schismatic sect. The Lefebvrites has been in de-facto schism since 1972 and in de-jure schism since July 1988. They don’t count – until SSPX makes the proper act of submission to the authority and teaching of the Catholic Church in general and acknowledges, clearly and unambiguously, in deeds as well as words, the legitimacy of the current Pope and his 5 immediate predecessors in that office.

  133. Vatican II is responsible for the current ills of the church.

  134. Through their exemplary lives, Jesus, Peter, Paul and such charismatic ambassadors of the Good News have left a lasting legacy of selfless service to humanity. Damien of Molokai, Mother Marianne Cope, Oscar Romero, Bismarque Dias, and many other spiritual icons have kept the flame of service alive in these challenging times. Long live the memory of their heroic sacrifices in the service of humanity.

  135. The Vatll church has been saying that sort of thing for 50 years about faithful Catholics. If you research the subject on your own you will discover that the SSPX are the true Catholics.

  136. If you look up vocation in Wikipedia, you get a much different answer, and that answer is the one I’ve heard many times– god calls people to the priesthood, the church exercises “discernment” to determine who actually has a vocation.
    That is also the word of the Most Holy Bob in his holy boble.

  137. Maybe get Disney to develop AI automatons to fill in the blanks. They could be remote;y sent sermons right from the Vatican. Or by a local bishop.

  138. Nope, Bob/Dominic, you’re wrong as usual.

    I’m obviously a non-adherent. The fraud is all your own.

  139. I did look at the Wikipedia entry and, like you’ve mentioned, it states that God calls people to the priesthood. My source is Professor Joseph A. Komonchak, a noted American theologian and a retired presbyter with the New York archdiocese. My impression of him (limited as it is) is that he is squarely in the middle of Catholic theology, drawing from liberal and conservative sources alike. As the Wikipedia entry notes, he is regarded as the leading American Catholic ecclesiologist. It can be said, I think accurately, that the church examines (or should be careful in examining — in light of the clerical sexual abuse debacle) candidates for ordination. Wikipedia has a brief entry about Komonchak at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_A._Komonchak. One other consideration about the “calling” to ministry is that the earliest Christian liturgical presiders fulfilled this role by virtue of their already existing community leadership. Today, of course, it’s just the opposite: Parish leadership is predicated on the “ontological superiority” of the presbyter; canon law formalizes this approach.

    I’ve concluded that our fellow blogger has a tendency to utter popular Catholic misconceptions. Regardless of his background (high school diploma or law school graduate or PhD, etc.), he nonetheless *has demonstrated* little familiarity with the substance of topics we’ve debated.

  140. The catholic church in no different than any other organized church…..apostate.

  141. My source was several books on theology, though I think they were on something else. Also a Monsignor at a seminary and a friend of mine who was going to be a priest. BobWorld changed the subject, of course to the process by which they determine whether someone actually has a vocation. Unfortunately for his bias, errr, umm, argument, all he is admitting is that the church process for determining,ning the actuality of a vocation is flawed, hence, meaningless. Because otherwise, you would have to admit that god is calling child molesting priests to the priesthood. Not good for PR.

  142. Instead of “the number of baptized Catholics rose globally from 1.27 million to nearly 1.29 million”, I believe you mean Billion not million!

  143. Vatican II specifically stated that the Church is hierarchical.

  144. I know: It gets tiring to hear folks describe your behavior, huh?

  145. Yes, and your point in relation to what I wrote earlier, to wit:

    “Vatican II reminded Catholics, lay and ordained, that the Church is much more than just the clergy and hierarchs. It’s all of us, regardless of status.”

  146. What you’re touching on is the reality of evil in the world including the church. No one has yet developed a universally accepted explanation for this reality: If God is, why does God permit — or at least not prevent — evil? (Evil in this context, broadly speaking, consists of bad human deeds, human illness and disease, and natural disasters that, by definition, are acts of nature that harm people in one or more ways.)

    I forget the term, but here’s a related thought: If one cannot function without God’s permission, and if one commits a moral wrong (e.g., knocking down a little old lady and stealing her purse), then God — in a manner of speaking — must share the guilt inherent in such act.

    Evil is a mystery.

  147. I think the word you want is theodicy, though it apparently has no relationship to idiocy.

    A truly loving god would want to provide the evidence of his existence– better evidence than the appallingly low standard currently accepted by every, any, and all faiths. I find it amazing when theists say that I take science on faith, but then say that faith is the way to know anything important.

    To me, evil isn’t a mystery. It’s not a bug, it’s a feature. My own answer to the question is that it doesn’t matter why there is evil; it’s a given. We’re all of us human, we’re none of us perfect (except my husband). We’re all the products of many, many generations of less than perfect people, all of their mistakes, their family’s mistakes, their country’s mistakes, the world’s mistakes. sometimes we can transcend those mistakes, sometimes we can’t.

  148. Well, of course, a layman cannot ordain, cannot celebrate the Eucharist, cannot forgive sins, has no authority to preach, and so on.

  149. I believe you mean express their opinion.

    Generally these folks are those who have had one or more arguments refuted.

  150. The notion that “a truly loving god would want to provide the evidence of his existence” runs headlong into two problems.

    The first is obvious – your qualifications to define a deity seem to be somewhat lacking. You could get away “if a truly loving god was designed by me, that god would …. etc etc”.

    The second is that many people who believe in a deity believe that deity has already provided evidence of its existence and that people who fail to recognize it are benighted.

  151. Actually First Name: Ben Last Name: In Oakland I did not change the subject.

    I simply pointed out that whether there is a call from god requires discernment, while your cheap shot asserted that a lack of vocations was prima facie evidence of a lack of calls.

    I thought would point that out before you concluded with your usual “it must be the will of god” cheap shot.

  152. Yes, you’ve “refuted” with eighth-grade level catechesis.

  153. You veered off topic a comment ago. I stated that Vatican II acknowledged the Church is much more than clergy and hierarchs. You then introduced the notion of hierarchy, which has absolutely nothing to do with my point. The CCC, while discussing hierarchy, also teaches something much more basic to the nature of the church, to wit, the fundamental equality of everyone. Hierarchy is based on particular functions/duties of bishops and presbyters and on their *ontological superiority* over the laity, nothing more (what is this ontology of sacred orders, anyway???).

    There is no need for a layperson to ordain: Our earliest ancestors in the Christian faith had no ministerial ordination. On the other hand, the laity celebrate the Eucharist presided by the presbyter or bishop; The laity most certainly can forgive sins; in fact, they are requested to do so by the Lord himself! (The presbyter or bishop forgives sins on behalf of the community in response to Jesus’s request.) One of the best sermons I ever heard was given by a Catholic sister at Sunday liturgy. Vatican II’s main theme was ecclesial renewal, i.e., to “make the church new again”.

    We’re living through turbulent times in the Church of Rome. One can only hope that a breakdown (some observers have called it an “implosion” in reaction to JPII and B16) eventually leads to a breakthrough, i.e., renewal.

  154. The Church has never claimed that the Church consisted of “clergy and hierarchs”, so Vatican II introduced nothing new.

    St Paul teaches the fundamental equality of everyone, but both the difference in gifts and charisms and the special charisms and authority of the bishops and other clergy.

    Our earliest ancestors in the Christian faith were ordained by Christ.

    Yes, you reject Holy Orders.

    No, there is not a whit of support for that conclusion, as Anglicans concluded in the 16th century based on nothing more than scriptures and tradition when they concluded that the orders were bishop, priest, and deacon in apostolic succession.

  155. My first paragraph above, as you’ve noted, deals with theodicy. My second paragraph deals with “Concursus Divinus”, i.e., divine concurrence, according to Gerald O’Collins, SJ and Edward G. Farrugia, SJ in their A CONCISE DICTIONARY OF THEOLOGY, Third Edition (Paulist Press, 2013).

    The latter term is described as follows: “The constantly needed cooperation from God that enables creatures to initiate, continue, and complete their actions. The fact that rational creatures sometimes sin raises the question of accounting for God’s collaboration in actions that deliberately run counter to the divine will.”

    God does provide incomplete evidence of divine existence in creation. To use an analogy, a cabinet reflects something of its maker — not all characteristics, of course, but enough for observers to say, for example, “That’s a genuine Stickley piece (or Shaker work.” This doesn’t eliminate the reality of evil, a “feature” or “bug” that, by definition, lacks ultimate explanation (you’ve offered what I would describe as intermediate reasons for evil, i.e., human imperfection).

  156. Again, you go off topic. I wrote initially that the Church is the People of God, i.e., all the baptized regardless of status. Your first paragraph ignores what I wrote.

    No problem with your second paragraph, including its ecclesial reality.

    No, contrary to your assertion, our earliest ancestors in the Christian faith were NEVER ordained by Christ. Jesus commissioned the Twelve to go forth, preach, and baptize. Nothing more. Ordination gradually arose in response to perceived need in local Christian communities founded by the Twelve and other apostles. There is no evidence the Twelve served as heads of local churches or ordained anyone to serve in this capacity.

    I do not reject Holy Orders. I stress here the observation of a future pope: “[F]acts, as history teaches, carry more weight than pure doctrine” (Joseph Ratzinger, THEOLOGICAL HIGHLIGHTS OF VATICAN II, Paulist Press/Deus Books, 1966, p. 16). Relevant historical facts trump “pure doctrine”. The bishops at Trent, for example, did not have the historical resources available to us today; in some cases, they made doctrinal assertions with no “historical warrant” (H/T: P. Stravinskas many years ago re: the term).

    I’ve no problem with sacramental ordination as long as it’s made clear that this particular sacrament was not at all “instituted by Christ”. I’ve no problem with the ministerial orders of deacon, presbyter, and bishop.

    What do you mean by “apostolic succession”?

  157. Whatever.

    Typology proves nothing in terms of basic Christian doctrine in the canonical gospels.

  158. Actually, I am on topic – the article dealt with the priesthood.

    You’re off topic, you’ve hijacked the discussion to promote your favorite mantra: “our earliest ancestors in the Christian faith were NEVER ordained by Christ”.

    And yet, apparently with a straight face, you write: “I do not reject Holy Orders.”

    Of course you do.

    As to “”[F]acts, as history teaches, carry more weight than pure doctrine”, both history and doctrine refute you, as the Anglicans noted in the mid-16th century.

    So, have a nice life in your cocoon of idiosyncratic theology and self-contradictory statements.

  159. More typology from you.

    Did you copy that from McBrien?

  160. My comments were in response to yours.

    Anglicans knew no more of the history of orders than did the folks in Rome — or Trent! Furthermore (since we’re mentioning the 16th century), a good many of the bishops at Trent (perhaps a majority of them?) did not see their episcopal priesthood as any higher than, or different from, that of the men they ordained. Aside from Jesus not making the Twelve into bishops, Trent — its doctrinally informed exaggerations notwithstanding — effectively and conveniently ignored the loss of “apostolic succession” in the Church of Rome. Of course, we know all too well how the Vatican has conflated doctrine and history, don’t we?

  161. What’s a so-called “true Catholic”?

  162. Apparently the Anglicans and the bishops at Trent knew more than you and McBrien.



    “That Orders is truly and properly a Sacrament.”

    “Whereas, by the testimony of Scripture, by apostolic tradition, and the unanimous consent of the fathers, it is clear that grace is conferred by sacred ordination, which is performed by words and outward signs, no one ought to doubt that Orders is truly and properly one of the seven sacraments of the holy Church. For the apostle says, I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the grace of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands. For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of sobriety.”

    Viola, apostolic succession.

    And so on.

  163. So, you’re just as ignorant of the actual history of Catholic ministerial orders as medieval popes and bishops. Given the paucity of substantive information you’ve given in your previous posts, I’m not surprised.

  164. While you’re clueless, consistent with your previous posts.

    How, prithy, did the ministry of bishop, priest, and deacon wind up in places like India, Ethiopia, Assyria, and on and on sans “medieval popes and bishops”.

    You’d actually have to be familiar with the history the Church beyond McBrien and the other pop pundits you peruse to know the answer.

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