Saturday, April 28, 2012

WSJ: Traditional Catholicism is Winning

While the LCWR and it's publishing arm National catholic Reporter feed the secular press with a notion that the Church can't survive without women's "ordination", an article in the Wall Street Journal reflects reality.  At least the WSJ knows how to look at the numbers and make an objective analysis, rather than succumbing to the subjectivist panic attack of the day.
Traditional Catholicism Is Winning 

There were 467 new priestly ordinations in the U.S. last year, and Boston's seminary had to turn away applicants. 


In his Holy Thursday homily at St. Peter's Basilica on April 5, Pope Benedict XVI denounced calls from some Catholics for optional celibacy among priests and for women's ordination. The pope said that "true renewal" comes only through the "joy of faith" and "radicalism of obedience." 

And renewal is coming. After the 2002 scandal about sexual abuse by clergy, progressive Catholics were predicting the end of the celibate male priesthood in books like "Full Pews and Empty Altars" and "The Death of Priesthood." Yet today the number of priestly ordinations is steadily increasing. 

A new seminary is to be built near Charlotte, N.C., and the archdiocese of Washington, D.C., has expanded its facilities to accommodate the surge in priestly candidates. Boston's Cardinal Sean Patrick O'Malley recently told the National Catholic Register that when he arrived in 2003 to lead that archdiocese he was advised to close the seminary. Now there are 70 men in Boston studying to be priests, and the seminary has had to turn away candidates for lack of space. 

What explains the trend? [continue reading "Traditional Catholicism" at the WSJ]

The photo at top is of the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecelia (aka, the "Nashville Dominicans").  I think the average age now is around 28-30.  The average for the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, is even younger.  Both communities are bursting at the seams.  These are active Dominican communities, involved largely in education.   This doesn't even consider the contemplative branches of many orders that are still growing.   In New York, there is a growing Franciscan community of friars and sisters who work with the poorest of the poor, and the dying.  I'd be remiss to not mention the social justice work done by the ever-growing Sisters of Life, as well.

There are many others I could mention - dioceses, communities for men and women religious where vocations are booming.  And, there is a great deal of diversity among these communities, in terms of what they do to build up the Body of Christ.  Religious communities and diocesan vocation programs, which are faithful to the doctrines of the Church, and not wanting to "move beyond" that, are growing steadily while those which dissent are dying out.  The average age in those communities is up in to the 70's and many have had to merge.

There is a great interview done by Al Kresta on this topic.  Here is the overview:

First Topic - Vatican Demands Reform of Leadership Conference of Women Religious 
The Vatican has called for a thorough reform of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), the umbrella group that represents most of the women's religious orders in the US. After a thorough investigation of the LCWR, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) concluded that "the current doctrinal and pastoral situation of LCWR is grave and a matter of serious concern." The CDF concluded that a Vatican intervention was necessary to reform the group. Archbishop Peter Sartain of Seattle has been appointed as the Vatican's delegate to supervise the reform of the LCWR. The archbishop has been charged with helping LCWR leaders to revise the group's statues, plan its programs, review liturgical texts, and reconsider the group's affiliations with other organizations. We talk with Sr. Johannah Paruch, a member of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Martyr St. George. 

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Matthew W. I. Dunn said...

I'm not sure what one means by "Traditional Catholicism" is "winning." It's great to see religious orders and societies prosper which are truly faithful to their charisms as RELIGIOUS orders and societies for the living out of the Holy Gospel -- and, not social work groups. I FULLY SUPPORT THEM AND WISH THEM WELL!

But, honestly . . . most religious orders and societies -- even those which aren't necessarily full of dissenters -- have to deal with the problem of aging members and empty buildings. One problem that has nothing to do with orthodoxy or heresy: Many, if not most, men and women leaving college today or living in the "real world" are burdened by extreme amounts of debt. Religious orders either simply won't or can't assume those debts. It's just economic reality. The days are gone when a person's financial situation was not considered an insurmountable hindrance to pursuing a clerical or religious vocation. Today, it is.

Also, I notice how the same religious groups keep getting bandied about. When the same groups keep getting mentioned, then of course that's where people will look. Are they really flourishing . . . or, is it just that people have nowhere else to go?

In my humble opinion, LAZINESS and THE LOSS OF THE SENSE OF THE SACRED amongst the Clergy and Religious trouble me more than whether a friar or nun agrees with the Church's discipline (discipline, mind you!) on mandatory celibacy.

As for His Eminence Card. O'Malley's revelation that the Boston Archdiocese has had to turn men away from the seminary (!) because of lack of space, my initial thought was . . . oh, really?

I've been in the Major Seminary before. So, I know for a fact that Archdioceses and Dioceses can and do send out their seminarians to multiple places. At the place where I was for a couple years, we had men from several dioceses in the Northeast U.S. -- even from a Byzantine Eparchy! -- studying there.

I'm not saying the Archdiocese of Boston didn't turn men away from its seminary. But, "lack of space" sounds really flimsy to me. (They couldn't have sent some of them to the NAC in Rome?)

Jimmy Martello said...

You make some valid points, but even the casual on-looker of the Church in the modern day can distinguish between traditional and progressive Catholic communities. Me thinks you are more savvy than confused when logically applying these criteria.
As for the matter of Church discipline as it applies to celibacy and the reservation of ordination to men alone, it is a great deal more than just a method of operation or institutional policy, it is charism and theology. It permeates the very understanding of Jesus' relationship to his Church. We have always had both married and celibate clergy in the Church so, dissent on this matter has more to do with stunted notions of free will than concern for the Church at large.
Finally, I have to voice serious offense to use of the phrase "real world" to describe those of us outside clerical and religious life. Our lives are no more real than consecrated life, no more challenging, no more responsible, and no more complicated. It is a derogatory distinction that has no valid use in describing the art of living.