Sunday, January 30, 2011

"A Problem, Not a Crisis..."

A friend sent me this quote from a report on clergy shortage in the Episcopalian Church in the USA, which makes a telling comparison to the US Catholic Church:
Do we face a shortage of priests as severe as that seen now in the Roman Catholic Church? This is certainly not the case. As of the year ending 2000, the Roman Catholic Church had roughly 45,000 priests for its 50 million adult adherents, a ratio of 1 to 1,100. By contrast the Episcopal Church had roughly 6,000 parish priests to serve 3.5 million adherents, a ratio of 1 to 583. Moreover, the 45,000 figure is for all priests of all types and of these priests, roughly a quarter of whom are over seventy years of age. By contrast, if we count all active priests, and all ordained, though inactive priests under age sixty-five, the Episcopal Church has 9,500 priests for its 7,500 parishes. The Church can also call upon many “active retired clergy”, almost 2,000 of whom are between the ages of sixty-five and seventy and thus younger than many active Roman Catholic priests. The Episcopal Church would also be able to call upon Canon IX priests who can serve in rural communities [...] Due to these factors, one can conclude the severity of the priest shortage in the Episcopal Church is nowhere near as serious as in the Roman Catholic Church. Moreover, it is unlikely that Episcopalians will face the same moment of crisis, in which access to the celebration of communion is itself in doubt, now afflicting Roman Catholics. In short, the Episcopal Church has a problem, not a crisis.
I think that's hilarious! Compared to us, the Episcopalians have merely a "problem," not a "crisis." Meaning we do have a crisis. Just keep reminding your fellow Catholics, priests, and bishops: half of all active priests currently in ministry are over age 60, and half of all priests currently in active ministry expect to retire in the next ten years!!!

Even the German cabinet is taking notice; which makes sense, 2/3rds of parishes in Germany may not have a priest by 2020! And yet crazy conservatives are digging themselves in just a deeper hole arguing that priestly celibacy is "dogmatic," or that even permanent deacons with wives must abstain from all relations...

I must agree with the young Joseph Ratzinger, unless there is a miraculous reversal in the next few years (and there won't be; they couldn't even handle a huge influx of seminarians if it did happen), then the Catholic Church “quite simply has a responsibility to take up certain modifications” on celibacy and that if they don't change them, then the hierarchy will “create the impression that it did not believe in the strength of the Gospel recommendation of a celibate life for the sake of heaven, but rather only in the power of a formal authority.”

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