Oh no. The horror. The future of the Catholic Church is in peril because, Pope Francis says, fewer people feel the need to become priests and nuns.
I know, I know. You are shocked and saddened. Why would anyone choose not to pursue a life of celibacy and adherence to a being they can’t know exists, especially as part of an organization that is consistently under fire for child sex abuse and associated cover-ups.
The pope is reportedly concerned about the “hemorrhaging” of nuns and priests, especially throughout Europe, where the number of priests has dropped by 2,502 since 2014, leading to a “crisis of vocations” in the region.
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.
It’s telling that as fewer people are being “called to serve God,” the Church is considering another rule change. Apparently, the longstanding tradition against married men serving as priests doesn’t matter when there’s a shortage of applicants. It makes you wonder what other supposedly ironclad rules they’re willing to bend…
Also, is there really a shortage of priests? You don’t need the supply when there’s less demand. The pope may want more priests, but the bottom line is that he really wants more believers. In most of the developed world, Catholicism has been in rapid decline over the past several decades.
So while the pope may lament the shortage of priests, there are plenty of people relieved by the so-called crisis. If we’re lucky, there will come a day when we don’t need any priests at all.