September 23, 2013

There is no shortage of priests in the Catholic Church today. Throughout the 2,000-year history of the Catholic Church, there have never been as many priests as today.

Seminaries in various parts of the world are overwhelmed with young Catholic men wanting to enter. Therefore, I would agree with Wilbur Collin (WCR letters, Aug. 26) that there is no need to be closing parishes because of a shortage of priests.

However, in North America and Europe, there is a shortage of young men entering our seminaries. We should be concerned about the shortage of young men from our archdiocese wishing to enter the St. Joseph Seminary that we funded.

But we should not be surprised. A 2011 study conducted by social scientists under the direction of William D’Antonio found that among the 19 per cent of the 1,442 self-identified Catholics who regard themselves as “highly committed” to the Church, the following percentages say they believe that it is possible to be a good Catholic:

  • Without attending Mass every Sunday: 49 per cent.
  • Without following Church doctrine on birth control: 60 per cent.
  • Without following Church doctrine regarding divorce and remarriage: 46 per cent.
  • Without following Church doctrine regarding abortion: 31 per cent.
  • Without being married in the Church: 48 per cent.
  • Without giving time or money to help the poor: 39 per cent.

Young men wishing to enter the seminary do not fall out of heaven – they come from Catholic families.

Given strikingly large percentages of Catholic families that say they are “highly committed” to the Church, but don’t believe following Church doctrine is necessary to be a good Catholic, it seems we should bring more priests to our archdiocese to re-evangelize us before we can expect more young men to enter St. Joseph Seminary.

Grant Mann