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Why is there a shortage of priests?

Updated on February 28, 2012

From mendicant priests, to a shortage of disciples?

Do empty pews mean empty spirits?  What is happening to organized religion?
Do empty pews mean empty spirits? What is happening to organized religion? | Source

Is the spirit willing, but the flesh too weak?

Augustinians, Carmelites, Dominicans, Franciscans: where are the mendicant friars today?

A shortage of priests? Why?

There is beauty in the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches. What higher calling can a man or a woman respond to, than full time service to their fellow men and women, and to the Lord? Why then is there a shortage?

The world population continues to grow. Are the Catholic and Orthodox churches not growing, too? Is the attraction of an earthly life growing and the attraction of such religious callings declining so much that the churches cannot properly meet the also growing need for priests and nuns?

Perhaps there is a leadership gap, such as we see in civil societies?

Christ sent disciples "without purse, and scrip, and shoes" and he asked them if they had lacked anything, and they said "Nothing." For a God who knows how to feed every sparrow, surely knows how to feed his servants in the Household of Faith.

Can it be that gathering treasures on Earth, has become so much more appealing than "...all that the Father hath"?

Tithing a tenth part of one's increase, and cheerful givers, built the great cathedrals of the world. But paying "an honest tithe" has lost not only its admitted importance, but apparently some of its cheer.

Honoring the sabbath has seen empty pews, and female worshippers far outnumbering male worshippers in so many churches of most faiths around the world.

Adultery is made fashionable on TV, in the movies, and as the subject of salacious tales seen and read by millions. Coupled with this Age of Sensualism, is the juxtaposition of family values and the manmade restriction in some churches requiring priests to remain true to vows not to marry and raise such families of their own.

Even the remainder of the short list of just ten commandments, finds the world turning deaf ears and blinded eyes to what should be every Christians' checklist for daily living..

Repentance is out of fashion, too. Vengeance, judging, grudges, gossip, and hate defy the teachings of a Christ who millions claim to follow, but the hearts and minds of so many, even of his professed adherents, are so often far from the basic standards he taught, and laws he came to fulfill.

Far from a more peaceful world 2,000 years later, modern man kills with seeming impunity and with ever increasing ferocity and randomness, another essential commandment trampled upon.

In the United States the fastest growing churches have been (in order) Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, and Seventh-day Adventists. In 2008 membership in the Roman Catholic Church declined, regaining ground in 2009, but by 2012 some parishes were being combined to reduce expenses as the church became more austere. Such combining also places a heavier responsibility on the existing priesthood.

A case in point is the care of aging priests who formerly were cared for by the church as a whole in communities specifically devoted to their care, but now aging priests in the United States have increasingly become the responsibility of the parish members they served.

There are certainly answers for any perceived shortages of priests and nuns. Without acknowledging and implementing such answers in a revival of the spirit, the strength of the church's traditional structure will continue to be under stress.

Copyright 2012 Demas W. Jasper All rights reserved.


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    • Amy Becherer profile image

      Amy Becherer 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      No, I got off on another path. I wrote a letter to the editor of Vogue that was published and got waylaid trying to submit an article. It looks like I'd have to make some monetary investment to get into voice-overs, so I put it on the back burner. I'm still struggling, but I still have a roof over my head and my Scottish Terrier at my side. I may try to start a "senior errand service" since I have a car and it doesn't require extra cost to get started. With my luck, that will be the time gas hits $5.00 a gallon! Thank you for your kind wishes.

    • Perspycacious profile image

      Demas W Jasper 5 years ago from Today's America and The World Beyond

      Amy: Did anything come of the voice overs? I'm hoping something good did and life is returning to an even keel. Thanks for commenting.

    • Amy Becherer profile image

      Amy Becherer 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      Thank you, Perspycacious, for not taking any offense to my honest comment. I hesitated to say what I thought on this issue, as I did not want to offend anyone, but I do believe sincere honesty is worth expressing. Your article is excellent and your open mind a blessing.

    • Perspycacious profile image

      Demas W Jasper 5 years ago from Today's America and The World Beyond

      Dave Matthews: Catholics are not alone in failing to educate from the Bible, though they make good and widespread efforts as far as they go. We all do an overall poor job of educating our own children "in the way they should go."

      dahoglund; As mentioned in this Hub, some churches are indeed declining in membership, while others are trying to pick up the slack and are growing. People in the pews are not as important a measure (and I know you agree)as is writing God's laws on our hearts. It is that which concerns me the most.

      Amy Bercherer: Indeed you are right. It was the protection of the guilty at the sacrifice of the children which has crippled the image. Dollars don't buy that image back.

      BlossomSB: You are right that "where our treasure is, there is our heart also." All Christian denominations have the ability and basic desire to make the world a better place. Christians knocking other Christians doesn't serve that ecumenical purpose. There is so much good we should all be doing, we shouldn't be wasting time counting which church does what, except to improve on the focus of doing it.

      Thanks for the time you each spent in commenting on one aspect of doing so.

    • BlossomSB profile image

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 5 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      A thought-provoking article. I am a Christian, but not a Roman Catholic and when we were living in one town we sent our children to a parish school and could not have been happier with the welcome and treatment they received. So much of current thinking revolves around the worship of self and what one can gain for oneself. I think you're right and what we need is putting ourselves under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and then we might begin to go in the right direction.

    • Amy Becherer profile image

      Amy Becherer 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      I grew up going to parochial schools. What was once thought to be a safe place to grow intellectually with a faith based education proved otherwise. The vast wealth of the Catholic Church, the pomp and circumstance, today is seen, in light of many crimes against innocent children at the hands of priests, as hypocrisy and betrayal. The fact that many of the guilty priests were protected by a devious coverup that resulted in further damages against more children might explain the empty church pews. The church has still not come clean with a full, sincere confession. I would imagine the truly faithful that once might have devoted their lives to the Catholic church would be put off by the ugly stain that the world now sees. What ever happened to "protect the little children?"

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      I think church membership and the priesthood has declined starting in the 1960's. When we visit churches we used to know as active and vibrant we find a few old people and wonder how the church stays open at all.

    • Dave Mathews profile image

      Dave Mathews 5 years ago from NORTH YORK,ONTARIO,CANADA

      The Catholic Church fails to properly, scripturally, educate its followers through the usage of the Holy Bible, God's Holy Word, relying more on the wrongful docterines precepts and false dogmatic teachings passed down by the various popes. These teachings have only "Catholicism" not Christianity in mind.

      Any Catholic male, if they have an open mind, and open their bible for the truth soon learns, as I learned, all of the various wrong teachings, the church is teaching and brainwashing the people with.

    • Dave Mathews profile image

      Dave Mathews 5 years ago from NORTH YORK,ONTARIO,CANADA

      There is a lot of negative stigma attached to priests especially in the Roman Catholic Church, and if you have to ask "Why" then you are walking through life with your eyes and ears closed.

      This stigma makes it difficult for a man with the strongest best intentions toward the priesthood to commit himself.

    • Perspycacious profile image

      Demas W Jasper 5 years ago from Today's America and The World Beyond

      The symbolic nature of the shepherd and his flock, finds itself under stress when it comes to trying to meet today's needs of larger and larger flocks with a perceived shortage of priests and nuns. Austerity meaures and the possible inroads of a world "too much with us" may call for a revival of the spirit to buttress the traditional structure of the church today.