“Things have gone terribly, terribly wrong.”

Hows_Liturgy_CandleThe other day, I posted a thought about a ridiculous claim (HERE).  I wrote:

There is no lack of priestly vocations where bishops are capable of projecting solid clerical identity and where they teach perennial Catholic truth in charity and in clarity.

I come from a parish where in 30 years there were 30 First Masses.  I live in a diocese where in a decade the bishop turned around vocations from 6 to 30.

The proportion of priests to people is more or less constant.  Why?  Lay people get the priests that they produce and that they deserve.   Lower Mass attendance results in falling numbers of priests, not the other way around.

Today I read a perspicacious piece by Phil Lawler at Catholic Culture.  He addressed the issue of the number of churches being opened or closed in the Archdiocese of Boston – though what he wrote could easily apply to just about any diocese you can name – throw a dart at the map.  He also touched on vocations to the priesthood.  He wrote:

There were about 1.8 million Catholics registered in the area covered by the Boston archdiocese 50 years ago; today the official figure is 1.9 million.

The trouble, of course, is that most of those 1.9 million Catholics aren’t practicing the faith. Consequently it should be no surprise that their sons don’t aspire to the priesthood. There were just over 2,500 priests working in the archdiocese 50 years ago; now there are fewer than 300. That’s right; nearly 90% of the priests are gone. If you can’t replace the priests, you can’t keep open the parishes.

Let’s be frank. These figures are not a cause for concern; they are a cause for horror. Panic is never useful, but something close to panic is appropriate here. Things have gone terribly, terribly wrong.

He also wrote:

Yes, the Lord promised that the Church would last through the end of time. But he did not promise that the Archdiocese of Boston (or your own diocese) would last forever. The faith can disappear, indeed has disappeared, from large geographical areas—northern Africa, for instance.

Exactly.  This echoes what I’ve written on many occasions (for example HERE and HERE):

While the Lord promised that the hell would in the end not prevail, He did not promise it would not prevail in, say, your home town, your country.  Think of the mighty Churches of ancient times, in Turkey and North Africa.  They are gone and now we have echos of their memory in certain bishops who serve the Church everywhere but where those sees were. [i.e., auxiliary bishops]

Whole regions of Churches can be broken and swept away like sand.  Parishes close in dioceses.  Jesus did not found your parish.  He didn’t promise that it would last until He returned.


Lawler adds:

[E]ven if we could safely assume that the faith will recover in another 10 or 20 or 50 years, that would not absolve us, in this current generation, of our responsibility to evangelize. Right now, people are going without the benefit of the sacraments, because of our failure and our complacency. Lives are being lost; souls are being lost. We are accountable.

Go read the whole thing over there.

If you are worried about what’s going on, you are not alone.

I, of course, will restate what I always state.  The success of every initiative we undertake in the Church, either ad intra or ad extra, depends on a revitalization of our sacred liturgical worship.  If that doesn’t happen, neither will any other good thing we attempt.  Our Catholic identity flows from and back to worship.  We can’t know who we are without it.  Nor can we have the divine aid we need to do what has to be done.

Finally, FATHERS!  Please, I implore you, to take a look at


Bishops, priests, please.  Take a look especially at the end.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, New Evangelization, Our Catholic Identity, The Coming Storm, The future and our choices and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. THREEHEARTS says:

    when a priest in a parish is so busy being a priest, when the lines at the confessionals are long. when a priest is so busy administering the Sacraments being the sacrificial minister he is supposed to be and praying then God will see the need for vocations and He will send them and not before

  2. Atra Dicenda, Rubra Agenda says:

    But Father! But Father! Isnt this the New Pentecost, the New Spring time, the New Order? You just hate wymynprysts and the Spirit of Vatican II and you’re just a big judgey, meanie pants. [Good one. New.]

    In all seriousness though, he’s absolutely right. This issue isn’t a cause for concern, it is a cause for horror.

  3. Alexander says:

    Pay no attention to that Vatican II behind the curtain.

    When will people stop carrying water for this non-magisterial, Protestant-izing novelty? Or am I wrong? I’d be happy to learn that VII was entirely orthodox and that all those flower-childs in red hats misinterpreted it (for one reason or another).

  4. Sonshine135 says:

    Why is it that in my Diocese in Charlotte, NC we are at a record number of vocations, and set to go from 7 Seminarians in the minor seminary to 17 next year (yes, no joke, 17 men straight out of High School!!!). Yet, In New York and Boston, they starve for Priests? One answer- Solid, Orthodox, Hardcore Roman Catholicism. Most of the Seminarians were hardcore altar boys in all male altar guilds in our most Traditional Parishes. Men love being men!

  5. pelerin says:

    It is not only in America. I recently watched a video interview with a European Bishop who said that in 1914 his diocese had 700 Priests. He estimates that in ten years time there will only be 15 active Priests left in the diocese. If my calculations are correct that is over 90% – even worse than Boston.

  6. Phil_NL says:

    Pelerin, That’s 98% gone.

    Though the comparison fails, most likely. If they have 15 active priests, they probably have no more than 15.000 Catholics who darken the doorstep of a church more than once a year. 700 priests would be an ’embarras de richesses’ on that number of churchgoers, not to mention the fact that there’s no way those 700 priests could be paid even a subsistence wage.

    I won’t argue that liturgy is a vital component in the mix, but where there are just so few people attending church to begin with, and with larger families being prohibitively expensive, there are other factors as well.

  7. lmgilbert says:

    To me it almost seems like there is an enchantment on the Church, for in my entire long life I have never heard from the parish pulpit, much less from the bishop, a sustained, full bore attack on the old de-evangelization . Yet virtually all our young people are subject to this practically from the time they get up until they go to bed. By this I mean there has been NO attempt to get the secular media out of the Catholic home.

    In light of that, for me all the talk about the New Evangelization is simply absurd. FIRST, stop the stampede out of the Church and out of the grace of God. Not only are our young people not becoming priests and religious, for some (so mysterious ) reason they only hear the call to hook up, shack up, apostasize. Who is issuing that call? An angel? Yes, but not a good one, and through several media. The vocation to marriage is in as much trouble as the vocation to the priesthood. Maybe we should have “come and see” weekends for the Sacrament of Matrimony, too. Yes, I am being ironic.

    So, young man, if you hear a call to the priesthood, we are having a come and see weekend. We will mention from the pulpit that we need more priests; at the prayers of the faithful we will pray for vocations to the priesthood and religious life. But what we will NOT do is preach the glories of the priesthood and religious life. We will not say that they are inherently superior to marriage, yet this has been the diction of the saints in every age. But if you are interested in the priesthood, if perhaps when you are walking down the street and notice that a post-it note has stuck to your shoe and it says, “Have you thought about the priesthood?, we have a come and see weekend for you in a month or two.

    But even if you are interested in the priesthood and religious life, we are going to do nothing and say nothing from the pulpit that would encourage your parents to support you. No, we are not going to talk to them from the pulpit about the glories of the priesthood and religious life, either, for that would be to encourage them to encourage you. Yet perhaps an angel of God will whisper in their ear or they too will step on a post-it note. It happens!

  8. Henry Edwards says:

    In the U.S., at least, the direct correlation seems obvious: Over time, for a bishop who’s been in place several years . . . Solid bishop, solid vocations. Weak vocations, weak bishop. Any exceptions to this as a general rule?

  9. Matt Robare says:

    The Archdiocese of Boston is an interesting case. It’s suffered from poor leadership, liturgical abuse and one of the biggest scandals in American Catholic history — but it’s recovering. Mass attendance is stable and the Archdiocese has been ordaining 6-9 priests a year. Not many, but better than some, especially for such a secular part of the world.

    I saw a blog post today by a priest of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis where he advocated for more parish mergers on the grounds that excess Masses were “unneeded” and he wrote that the Archdiocese has just 17 seminarians. http://on-this-rock.blogspot.com/2017/04/an-urgent-recommendation-for-what-needs.html

    [While I can very well understand the problem of priests celebrating three or four Masses a day regularly, I can’t get my mind around the idea of “excess” Masses.]

  10. joekstl says:

    I think the rationale here should be reversed. If I understand Fr. Z’s position, increasing reverential liturgical worship will attract more people to worship and an increase in sons interested and ultimately committed to priesthood. [You are almost there… almost. It’s deeper than that.] I think the reverse should be the case. The more we can grow our parishes through evangelizing and people come to Eucharist to express their communal belief the more we will have need for priests/presiders at sacraments. [You have it backwards… and sideways. Backwards, because worship must have logical priority. Sideways, because worship and works of mercy, etc., go on simultaneously.]

    As I teach a Bible study course on the Church in the Acts of the Apostles and the Pauline letters we find that for the whole of the New Testament after the Gospels the emphasis is on preaching and teaching. Except for a reference in Corinthians, there is no reference to communal Eucharist. We do have references to house churches in Paul’s communities and the letters of John. It is only in the mid-second century that we have our first description of Sunday Eucharist from Justin Martyr with a presider and all the elements of today’s Eucharist. [A problem here is that the sacred liturgy is its own theological source.]

    As to today’s situation: there are many areas where Catholics are increasing in parishes. South America, especially Brazil, and parts of Africa have Catholics who cannot have regular Sacramental practice. The issue is not how the Mass is celebrated, it is that the baptized have no one to celebrate for them. [No. It’s BOTH.]

    There is no reason that we cannot follow the practice of the New Testament pastoral letters: elect those from the community who are worthy (viri probati), married or not, to lead weekly Eucharist. The idea of a married clergy (including bishops, per Titus and Timothy) should be acceptable. [Soooo… you want New Testament practices. I’m glad you agree with St. Paul that women should not open their mouths in church. In any event, there are lots of reasons why we don’t do things in the same way as in the early Church.]

    On a personal note, here in Florida we regularly have brunch with friends from Canada. Their large parish is closing, even though large and financially solvent, because there is no priest for Sunday Mass. [Ask them what sort of organized, regular prayer there was for priestly vocations in that parish, and ask how Mass was celebrated.] They have been told to travel to the other side of the city. This is, frankly, immoral. [Churches open and close.] There would be men of outstanding character that the community could identify as priests for their Sunday worship. [They’ve had a parish for a long time. Do they have a record of vocations to the priesthood for their diocese?]

    So let’s go back to early Church discipline and give our “house-churches” (parishes) a presider where needed, married or not. [PRIEST.]

  11. joekstl says:

    You are correct that there are many reasons not to imitate the early church, e.g. Slavery. As to women being quiet in the assembly, you probably missed the earlier reference to women prophesying and hence your reference to women’s roles is added for later unknown reasons. [I didn’t miss it. I found it irrelevant.]

    PRESIDER- there is no word “priest” in what I have referenced. [So what? Priest has a specific meaning. I suspect is that specific mean that you don’t like.]

    So, what would you like to say about Pauline churches with married Bishops and women deacons (1 Timothy 3:11)? [There’s not much to say. There is no inherent conflict between the sacrament of matrimony and the sacrament of orders. However, the situation of married clergy in the Church rapidly changed, and for concrete reasons. Moreover, the issue of continence of the clergy in the ancient Church must be explored. Perhaps we could have a return, for a few years, to the sacerdos simplex, while we recover our sanity.]

  12. pj_houston says:

    Of course things have gone terribly, terribly wrong. Vatican II is a failed council, and the liturgy is in shambles. And until we stop wasting time trying to prove otherwise, things will continue to decline. It’s just so blantantly obvious, even a Catholic caveman could figure it out.

  13. joekstl says:

    The issue on Paul’s letter is not irrelevant. The selective quote you used has been used incorrectly to deny women a role in our Church. You choose to ignore it for no reason. [B as in B. S as in S.]

    Yes , priest has a specific meaning. But in these early documents not the meaning you impute. [Again, so what?]

    You are correct that the situation of a married clergy in the Church changed, but not rapidly as you state. In any event we can change and accept the earliest married clergy practices, for very concrete reasons.

    [I don’t see this as fruitful.]

  14. the little brother says:

    The Archdiocese of Boston is responsible for the Neo-catecuminal Way destroying my Parish. We were told how lucky we were to be picked for this special treatment. Our Priest, who had single-handedly pulled our Parish back from total ruins in 1 year!!! was ‘moved’ so we could be ‘chosen’! Pointing out that the NCW is a cult & a heresy proved to be utterly useless. Things have IN DEED gone terribly, terribly wrong.

  15. ChesterFrank says:

    I used to go to one parish but had to stop because when the priest retired, another priest had to run two parishes. The Mass I used to attend was rescheduled. Before retirement that priest campaigned for married priests. I switched to another parish and their priest has just retired. There is no parish priest there anymore. During the intentions the prayer was for an increase in vocation to the religious life for men and women. No intention was mentioned for a parish priest. Both priest less parish’s have married deacons and they are trained to lead the communion service. I suspected the priest shortage might be intentional?

  16. Charivari Rob says:


    From the perspective of someone living in RCAB… There are some questions about his (Mr. Lawlor’s) numbers, and I went to ask him more directly. Unfortunately, that site takes comments from donors only.

    This isn’t disagreeing (or agreeing, for that matter) with his conclusions. It just doesn’t help an argument if you’re building on fuzzy definitions.

    His priest numbers are a bit iffy. 2500 fifty years ago is believable. Not 2500 diocesan priests – that would have required 50 years of 50 ordinations a year, and there were only a few years of 45-50 at their peak – but I’d believe diocesan + religious = 2500. Catholic Hierarchy website backs that up: 1966 saw 1429 diocesan + 1075 religious. But – 300 today? By what definition – he doesn’t say.

    Catholic Hierarchy has 2015 numbers of 685 diocesan + 403 religious. Way more than 300. Sure, net decreases since, but not all the way down to 300. Anything I’ve heard around here recently is in the neighborhood of several hundred active priests. Now, if he said “only 300 diocesan priests under age 65”, that might actually be bang-on, but it’s apples and oranges with what’s counted in that first figure of 2500.

    He also moves between pears and tomatoes in talking about churches (referring to the recent shrine opening here). First, he criticizes coverage as misleading – taking pains to draw the distinction between new buildings and new parishes (none of the articles I saw around here confused the two). Then, he conflates the two (“new parish churches”) and introduces an error or two by saying none new Archdiocese overall (the last 50 years) instead of just in Boston – with suburban growth in the 50s – 70s, the number of parishes increased in that time, and yes, churches were built in that time.

    I don’t know what new church buildings he’s thinking of as having been opened in Boston city limits in the last 60 years (before the shrine last week). Saint Ambrose and Saint William were both rebuilt in their surviving exterior walls after being gutted by fires 30+ years ago. The Franciscans built Saint Anthony’s shrine in the mid-50s. Saint Clement’s Eucharistic Shrine was established 60 or 70 years ago – in a former Anglican Church. Saint Francis de Sales was demolished for urban renewal (high school or community college construction) – they moved to a former Baptist Church. Saint Kevin was erected 70 years ago in buildings belonging to a garage and (I think) the phone company. I don’t think the Saint Francis Chapel in the Prudential Mall qualifies as a “new church” in this context (nice space though it is). Any other church building in the city that I can think of has been there a long time.

    Few churches in the city have literally fallen to the wrecking ball in recent decades – though it will be true in this case. This was a swap – developer build the new shrine, then gets the parcel where the old chapel stands.

    He does home in on a crucial area: “The trouble, of course, is that most of those 1.9 million Catholics aren’t practicing the faith. Consequently it should be no surprise that their sons don’t aspire to the priesthood.” When we got some actual data during discussions here a few years ago, we saw an interesting pattern. Don’t get too caught-up in only the raw numbers of vocations – the actual base that holds true here for the glory years of the 60s, the lean years later, and the recovering years recently is that the ratio of ordinations to actual weekly-Mass-going Catholics stays in a very tight range.

    I also like some of what Matt Robare says above about the Archdiocese and recovering and vocations. Perhaps not grand as straight numbers, but indeed better than some, especially viewed in the context above.

    Some credit to leadership, too. The archbishop continues to call upon the parishes and people for prayers and specific initiatives to promote vocations to the diocesan priesthood. He kept the seminary open when he arrived and some were advising him to close it, sell it, and send the seminarians elsewhere. Now? With all the diocesan candidates (and those sent from other dioceses) in formation – they had to buy back some of the space they had sold to Boston College!

  17. Boniface says:

    pj houston, official church councils, such as Vatican II, can’t and don’t fail. If you look closely at its documents (which is all a council is, in the end – not a “spirit,” as you know), its clear little was said regarding the liturgy. None whatsoever of the problematic things we see today are mentioned in any way in V2 documents. The liturgical culture problems today are not an issue with any council, or of the Novus Ordo missal, which can be and is, where some choose to do so, celebrated by the book so as to resemble very closely a TLM. The problem is poor catechesis and an impoverished culture. We all must do all we can to improve it.

  18. Mike says:

    I went visiting relatives in the Boston area three years ago and went to Easter Sunday Mass at the parish I grew up in. I felt loved like I was in a time machine that went to 1983. Most of the folks there were elderly, the music was folk guitar, it was so hard to deal with after having been to TLMs. As a kid, I remember altar rails and four priests in the parish who would come over at Communion and help the celebrant. While the Lord can do anything, we have lost a lot by not handing on what was given.

  19. PA mom says:

    There are multiple issues here.
    Where the Mass is irreverent, clownish, overtly feminine, I think the young men will not even consider it.
    Where the seminaries are questionable, the parents will discourage it.
    Where the Masses are reverent, orthodox , and the laity are striving for holiness AND there is not a bishop or vocations office which screens out these qualities….
    our NO parish has had two ordained priests in the last 5 years, another young man is applying now.
    There are jobs proper to the laity, which they should be doing. Organizing rosary before Masses, being dependable to be present for all day Adoration, organizing yearly retreats (with one of our priests), offering bible studies in the groups, organizing prayer for vocations events, inviting people to Mass and even just being willing to discuss th faith, and helping fund people who need financial help to pursue their vocations…..
    It truly is a crisis and needs all hands on deck, to rebuild the Church, each to their proper position.

  20. Jennifer P says:

    Parishes that worship God grow and prosper, and produce ample vocations.

    Parishes that worship things other than God (like social justice), do not grow and prosper, and do not produce ample vocations.

    Why is this so difficult for so many bishops and priests to understand?

    I am Byzantine Catholic (Ruthenian). In 2007 our bishops forbid the ordinary form of the Byzantine Divine Liturgy and mandated their own version, which is sort of a permanent “Low Mass”, complete with the Eucharistic Prayers out loud and gender neutral language throughout. People really dislike it. About 15-20% of the people just stopped coming. Small parishes that once had 100 on a Sunday are down to 30. Large parishes that had 300 on a Sunday and great liturgy are down to 150. And our bishops and clergy did nothing except complain about how uneducated and unappreciative the people were not to understand this was all for them. It’s a culmination of a purposeful effort among Byzantines to copy the worst of the trends in the Latin Church since Vatican II. Why can’t the bishops look at the result of their actions and say: “This isn’t working. Our people are leaving and we have no vocations. Let’s try orthodoxy. We know it worked in the past.” Can anyone explain why some bishops and priests cannot see the very evidence before them?

    [Where to start…?]

  21. Maineman1 says:

    At the end of the day, these are self-inflicted wounds. And the problem is, conservative Catholics willfully overlook the roots of the crises that traditional Catholics have dutifully exposed. Sadly, conservative Catholics have unwittingly upheld the progressive spiritual agenda. They have become tools of the V2 Spirit. [I don’t think that “conservative” and “traditional” are so sharply different as you imply.]

  22. Maineman1 says:

    Jennifer P,

    That is terribly disheartening to hear. There is a general impression that Byzantine Catholic spirituality is a stable island in the midst of raging seas, a religious refuge in an era of spiritual chaos. But then I recently read that a Byzantine Catholic cathedral was used for a interfaith/ecumenical commemoration of the Protestant Reformation:


    I felt that the Byzantine Catholic route was my way of remaining Catholic. But now I have doubts of that given these unfortunate turns of events. Has the cancer of false ecumenism plagued the Byzantine Church now?

  23. hwriggles4 says:

    One Archdiocese that is really feeling a shortfall is the Archdiocese for the Military Services. Archbishop Broglio has asked persistently for every U.S. Diocese to release at least one priest for service (for a period of time, not necessarily for 20 years) in the Army, Air Force, or Navy. 25% of the Armed Forces is Catholic, most of them between the ages of 18 and 42.

    Priests who have served say military life taught them fraternity, and Fr. Eric Albertson (COL,CHC,USAR) often says it’s a unique way to live the priesthood. Priests must have 3 years parish experience, pass physicals, and meet other requirements plus have permission from their bishop (or religious superior if ordained for a religious order) to serve in the military.

  24. CrimsonCatholic says:

    Henry Edwards,

    To answer your question, there is some exceptions to that rule. The Diocese of Birmingham is an example. The bishop has been friendly to traditionalist and is orthodox. He was part of the reconciliation of Christ the King Abbey in Cullman, AL (which had been sedevacantists), to the Holy See. Yet, the diocese has very few vocations.

  25. Liberals — who are still firmly entrenched in power in many places — LIKE priest shortages. They think it will force Rome to reconsider priestly celibacy, and, ultimately, priestesses.

    I have also heard liberals argue that the shortage of priests is actually a movement of the Holy Spirit designed to elevate the laity. Reminds me of the chapter in Fr. Neuhaus’ book Death on a Friday Afternoon where he talks about those who, in their pride, argue that the fall of Adam and Eve was actually a “fall up” to a greater and better state than their first innocency.

  26. Aquinas Gal says:

    I just started to read Fr Albert Vanhoye’s book “Old Testament Priests and the New Priest” (1980) and in the intro he points out: “Because the notion of priesthood is tied to that of sacrifice, the virulent critics who have recently attacked the sacrificial concept of religion have also, as a direct consequence, radically depreciated the priesthood. Moreover, certain teachings of the last Council have revived or created other problems. In restoring the doctrine of the common priesthood of all the faithful to a place of honor, Vatican II shattered the existing notion by which, more or less consciously, the monopoly of the priesthood in the Catholic Church was assigned to the clergy. Some then went from the one extreme to the other. If all the faithful are priests by virtue of their baptism, it is no longer clear, they say, what ordination can add in the way of priesthood to those who receive it” p. xi

    Yes there is a deeper theological issue behind the decline in vocations to the priesthood.

  27. Stephen Matthew says:

    Matt Robare, I think you should reread the blog post in question at Fr. John’s blog, I think you have either misunderstood or mischaracterized his actual point.

  28. Spade says:

    When they closed the church my mom grew up in, and consolidated everybody to another church literally 20 yards away (I’m not even kidding), the people who hadn’t gone to church in years outside of Christmas and Easter and hadn’t provided a vocation in decades were super angry.

    Goodness, they were going to have to not go to an entirely different parish, with a new priest they’d have to never meet.

  29. un-ionized says:

    Spade, human nature, ha ha.

    My diocese has a bishop who isn’t terribly bishop-y but we seem to have a good number of vocations.

  30. Stevetop815 says:

    Here’s my humble question. What can I as a lay person do about it? Seriously, I’m willing to do whatever it takes, I’ll give my life for it, but I don’t know what to do.

    It seems like a problem caused by the clergy and only fixable by the clergy. I can’t change the liturgical practices. I can’t set bishops straight, I can’t expose the errors of embracing modernism to priests unwilling to listen.

    What can I do? Tell me and I’ll do it.

  31. Tom A. says:

    Yes we all know the cause of this crisis. V2 and bad liturgy. While the solution may be argued about endlessly, there is one thing every good Catholic should do. Stop financially supporting bad liturgy, bad homilies, bad practices, and effeminate clergy. Investigate where you are going to send your support. If your local diocese is a mess, send it to a seminary or monestary where they are doing it right. Money always gets their attention. And write a charitable letter to both parties as to the exact reasons you are no longer funding one and now funding the other.

  32. Thorfinn says:

    lmgilbert: “Maybe we should have “come and see” weekends for the Sacrament of Matrimony, too. Yes, I am being ironic.”

    There is too much truth in that. How many children grow up learning the beauty of marriage from the example of their parents — and how many do not? We think of certain young people we know and wonder: are we the only examples they see of a faithful marriage?

    Back to the immediate topic, how many boys reach adulthood having never seen the model of a faithful priest? Boys need to see priests being alter Christus & ipse Christus, both in & out of Mass, visiting the home, teaching, serving.

    Stevetop815; “It seems like a problem caused by the clergy and only fixable by the clergy.”

    The clergy come from the people. The people get the clergy we (collectively) earn. As to what to do, it’s no mystery: emulate Christ, live your vocation, follow God’s will. If it doesn’t seem like enough considering the state of the world and the Church, remember that a little leaven goes a long way.

  33. chuckharold says:

    Father, what you say and advocate is true. But on the other hand…. After 20 years as a lay person helping parishes and dioceses struggle through strategic planning, I am constantly amazed at how consistently “the church” ignores data. There is an abundance of evidence about what attracts people to a church, what is required to grow and sustain those parishes and the proper role of the Priest and lay people. (forget canon law for a minute) First of all, for the last 100 years people have been moving out of the cities to the burbs. Nationality is not as important as it once was. So, naturally national parishes in the cities need to close and new ones built in the burbs. Data shows that people pick their church based on programs for kids, good music, good sermons. Liturgy comes in third. Why do half of the Catholic population not come to church regularly? No programs for kids, horrible sermons, poor music and the priestly sex scandal. Why would someone want to be a leader in that kind of organization?

  34. The Masked Chicken says:

    Dear Boniface,

    You wrote:

    “pj houston, official church councils, such as Vatican II, can’t and don’t fail.”

    I wouldn’t put it like that. Vatican II was a valid Council in that what it said in its documents (up to the order of ambiguity in certain phrases in certain documents) is true, but as for doing what it set out to do in its introductory documents, at least up until this point in history, I think one can judge it as being a failure to bring about those results. For example, from Gaudium et Spes:

    “3. Though mankind is stricken with wonder at its own discoveries and its power, it often raises anxious questions about the current trend of the world, about the place and role of man in the universe, about the meaning of its individual and collective strivings, and about the ultimate destiny of reality and of humanity. Hence, giving witness and voice to the faith of the whole people of God gathered together by Christ, this council can provide no more eloquent proof of its solidarity with, as well as its respect and love for the entire human family with which it is bound up, than by engaging with it in conversation about these various problems. The council brings to mankind light kindled from the Gospel, and puts at its disposal those saving resources which the Church herself, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, receives from her Founder. For the human person deserves to be preserved; human society deserves to be renewed. Hence the focal point of our total presentation will be man himself, whole and entire, body and soul, heart and conscience, mind and will.

    Therefore, this sacred synod, proclaiming the noble destiny of man and championing the Godlike seed which has been sown in him, offers to mankind the honest assistance of the Church in fostering that brotherhood of all men which corresponds to this destiny of theirs. Inspired by no earthly ambition, the Church seeks but a solitary goal: to carry forward the work of Christ under the lead of the befriending Spirit. And Christ entered this world to give witness to the truth, to rescue and not to sit in judgment, to serve and not to be served.(2)”

    The Church has been, largely, ignored in exactly those human issues such as abortion, euthenasia, marriage, etc., which would foster the preservation and renewal of humanity. In this sense, the Council has, most certainly, failed in its objectives. This is, largely, because of the dissipation of focus caused by the liberals who short-circuited the proper connection the Church should have had to the world, substitution subjectivity for objectivity.

    The Chicken

  35. Magash says:

    The problem is what does “programs for kids, good music, good sermons” mean?
    Is “a program for kids” one in which it is made clear that attendance at catechisis is more important than a Sunday morning soccer game? Is it a program that includes challenging retreats and alternatives to secular activities or just something the babysit the kids while the parents go have me time?
    Who decides what’s good music? Is it Gregorian Chant, sacred polyphony or modern music? For that matter modern music isn’t specific enough. Is it songs by Matt Maher or other modern songwriters that are more or less orthodox or are we talking Marty Haugen, (a non-Catholic,) Dan Schutte, David Hassr, and the St. Louis Jesuits, whose songs often contain elements of Pelagianism and other heresies, though typically in subtle, but obvious if look at, ways.
    What’s a good sermon is particularly difficult to pin down. I’ve had many a priest tell me they don’t talk about sin because people don’t like it. So is a good sermon one which clearly illustrates Catholic teaching or is it one people want to listen too. One problem with homilies in the present age (in my opinion) is that the guidelines say the homilist should talk about the readings. The problem is that the faithful already know they should give to the poor (They may not give enough, but that isn’t really the problem that most endangers their souls.) They already understand, or have heard about the Prodigal Son or the steadfast forgiving father. They either understand or don’t understand about the crafty steward.
    What the faithful need is guidance in the cesspool of a society that we now live in, and answers to the moral questions that are not mentioned in scripture readings, like contraception, the death penalty, euthanasia, same sex relations, pornography and others. Yes people who pay attention know the Church’s stand on these issues, but there are still lots of “regular church goers” who feel perfectly comfortable ignoring the Magisterial stand on these and a host of issues and what their hearing form the pulpit tells them by exclusion that it’s alright to do this.

  36. Alexander says:

    Photo caption: “Success, we’ve driven the last bit of rigidity out of the Church!”

  37. robtbrown says:


    1. I have never considered the phrase “husband of one wife” (unius uxoris vir) to mean necessarily that the man is still married. That he is a widower is a reasonable interpretation of the phrase. That was an age without antibiotics, which meant early death was not uncommon. It was also was common for women to die in childbirth.

    2. That notwithstanding, it has to be remembered that the time of the Pauline letters is the beginning of Churches around the Mediterranean. It is unlikely that there would have been many celibate men around to be candidates for Holy Orders.

    3. I have little use for the Early Church fantasy. I wonder how many who want to return to the Church of St. Paul are enthusiasic about the possibility of their heads being cut off.

    4. The sources of theology are Scripture and Tradition. You seem to have jettisoned the latter. One of the ironies of Protestantism is their use of the Historical Critical Method has undermined their foundational principle of Sola Scriptura. In the first edition of the JBC the First Letter to the Corinthians was dated as 54 (later edition gave up on such precision), where was Sola Scriptura in the first 50 years of the Church. Anyway, if we take 54 to be the earilier composition, then we have to say that Tradition reflected the lived faith of that time, some of which was written down and considered Revelation.

    The obvious conclusion is that to limit Revelation to Scripture is to limit knowledge and understanding of Revelation, which solidifies the path to error.

  38. Supertradmum says:

    One day I asked my son, who is still on the way to priesthood, what was his earliest memory. He said without hesitating, sitting in between Daddy and me and hearing us say the rosary when he was only a baby…I wish I had kept up the family rosary all his life, but we went back to it again. Family rosaries encourage vocations…and the Consecration to Mary, the old version.

Comments are closed.