RNS—Study: Nearly half of new priests were discouraged against seminary

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Conversations around the kitchen table may be more responsible for the shortage of Roman Catholic priests in the U.S. than influences from American culture, a new study suggests.

Almost 45% of Catholic priests planning to be ordained this year said they were discouraged from considering the priesthood, according to a survey produced by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University for the U.S. bishops.

Of those, nearly 6 in 10 said a parent or family member was the source of the discouragement. Fifty-one percent said a friend or classmate had counseled them against the priesthood, and 15% said a priest or other clergy had. The percentages add up to more than 100 because respondents could select more than one category.

Read it all.



Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic

5 Comments
Posted April 22, 2009 at 5:00 am

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1. Jon wrote:

The figures provided are almost impossible to meaningfully evaluate without others for comparison.

Note that all they show is one person (out of conceivably dozens of friends, relatives, etc.) in their life suggested that their intended career path was nonideal—how often does that happen for people choosing some secular vocation (musician, sculptor, social worker, etc.)?

Also of interest would be to compare these figures with:
* Similar figures for non-RC Christian clergy
* Similar figures for RC clergy but say in 2000

The article also mentions that “The U.S. church will ordain 465 priests in 2009.”  Useful would have been the number of priests ordained in say 2000.

Without comparison figures like these we can’t say that the US Today piece suggests anything of value.

April 22, 8:10 am | [comment link]
2. Adam 12 wrote:

Perhaps, too, being challenged is a test of whether one’s vocation is a calling from God.

April 22, 9:13 am | [comment link]
3. Frank van Halsema wrote:

I don’t get it.  So family members around the kitchen table can’t be transmitters of “influences from American culture”?

April 22, 9:44 am | [comment link]
4. Harvey wrote:

Of course when candidates, regardless of their choice of congregation, see churches folding under and their doors being closed this does not give a felling of security.  Could it be we might be repeating the times of the early church where leaders also had to work at a trade to support their kinfolk? Jesus-a carpenter, John and his brothers - fishermen, and don’t forget Paul - a tentmaker.

April 22, 12:05 pm | [comment link]
5. Cole wrote:

I was raised RC, but of course now I’m an Anglican.  What I would like to see is for the permission to be given for Catholic priests to marry.  Then it would be easer to encourage quality men into the priesthood.  In the last few weeks I got into separate discussions with two female PhD graduate students about marriage and how faith and children can strengthen it.  Just yesterday I got into the same discussion with a 38 year old women who I just met in the cafeteria while eating lunch.  Now ordinarily you would think that this is a task a priest may be qualified to do.  They can speak from the heart (hopefully about faith), but not from experience about children.  I, on the other hand, could relate to my own experience of waiting to start a family and how it effected the relationship with my late wife.  The women I talked to yesterday said she never got my perspective from her friends, thanked me, and planned to have a heart to heart discussion with her husband about not waiting any longer.  So here I am a celibate widower better equipped to counsel married women than a celibate priest.  Sounds like something is wrong with the system.

April 23, 10:33 am | [comment link]


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