Many in the Church of today view the decline in the number of young men signing up to be a Priest and have several theories as to why. At least in Ireland ( where I am situated ) many seem to put it down to the Roman Churches discipline of celibacy. Others seem to think it is the scandals within the Church that make young men shy away from the Priesthood. All of these reasons are not true at all.
In the Eastern Catholic Churches men are allowed to first marry and then become a priest. And even though married clergy exist, they are very few and there are more celibate eastern priests than married. Looking back at what Saint Paul said in scriptures one can see why.
The scandals may play a small part in it I must admit, but here is my 2 cents as to what my theory about it is.
A major part of the reason for the decline is the desire by the Church ( and it varies in different countries ) to have men who are of noble intellectual character. For example: to join the Jesuit order one has to at least have his high school leaving certificate ( not sure what they call it in the states ) and at least 2 years university behind him before they even at least consider him for their order. All other places desire that you at least have finished high school before they even consider you as a ”brother” of their order.
Wow . . . That is a far cry from Jesus who called St.Peter a fisherman and St.Matthew a tax collector isn’t it? There you have it, our first Pope was a fisherman who probably didn’t even know how to read or write. They were not chosen for their great ”minds” but for their great ”hearts”. It is the heart the Lord sees and nothing else. If the Church spent more time examining the prayerful and moral disposition of these men as opposed to being concerned with whether or not they are a scientist or spent 15 years studying psychology, then maybe we would have more priests than we do now and good ones too.
Don’t pick me up the wrong way here because I recognize education to be important and the intellectual formation of the individual potential priest into theology to be important also. But in the East the priest is given a little formation in theology and Liturgy and so on and then sent out to do the good work of the Lord. After years of discerning and proving his worth in the seminary, that was it, he was ready.
But most of these guys don’t even get to the seminary because they have not finished high-school. And what is the result of all this ”great mind” searching the Church has done over the centuries? I’ll tell you what its done, we have now ended up with Priests and theologians who are working for the Church and don’t even believe in most of the Faith and Morals of the Church, even whilst on their seminary journey to ordaination these potential priests and crying out for women to be ordained, something banned by the universal magisterium.
I met one such theologian ( a doctor with a PHD ) who said to me that he believed women could be priests. That most of the Bible is a myth and I heard also that he is a fan of contraception too. When I confronted him about it he said: ”I have studied for years and years in the pontifical academy of Rome, I know what I’m talking about”. I was like, ”Yeah and St.Peter was a fisherman.”
Have you ever heard of the term ”Intelligently Stupid”? Because it applies to most people around the world today. My father told me of this term when I tried to tell him that apparently all these scientists theories are good and they are more intelligent than us. He said ”son, have you never heard of the term ”Intelligently stupid?”. So. . . of the little priests and theologians we do have, most of them suffer from the ”know-it-all” disease. Too much ”know” and not enough ”Love”. This is the big mistake the Church made in ordaining clergy. They went looking for the mastermind and not the Master ( Jesus ) himself in others who were most probably turned away because they lacked a MD or PHD in cookery or some rubbish like that.
Many vocational directors on the other hand are probably thinking. . . well . . . we have not got the funding to take a chance on someone who may not have a vocation after-all and then will dropout. That’s a rubbish excuse, because most of the guys you have taken on who were well educated dropped out in the last year and all the funding you gave them for their education went down the toilet.
And if funding is such a problem, you have a catechism, go find a room somewhere in a house or a garden shed. Give the priest this and teach him the Liturgy and what needs to be taught. Passing on knowledge costs nothing. Where there is a will there is a way and the Lord will provide. You don’t need to turn them into scholars. Christ is not looking for scholars and philosophers. He is looking for people to Love and contemplate him. True theology is not ”intellectual study” of the Lord, true theology is love and contemplation of him. Now as you all know . . . “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” But many are unwillingly grieving the Lord with the obstacles they place for those workers to be sent out into his harvest. Are you proving to be one of those obstacles?