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Recruiting shortage…for priests

While the Pentagon is scraping the bottom of the barrel and trying to bribe folks to join the military, it looks like the Catholic church may be have an even worse time of it. No one is signing up for Ratzi’s church. Gee, I wonder why? (NYT):

Faced with wounded morale and diminishing numbers in the priesthood, Roman Catholic bishops in the United States began a program yesterday to remind priests why they serve and to enlist them in a recruitment campaign.

In past generations, it was common for American priests to encourage young men to make lifetime commitments to the church. But a recent poll by the bishops found that one out of three priests were doing that now, said Bishop Blase J. Cupich of Rapid City, S.D., chairman of the bishops’ committee on vocations.

“This program,” Bishop Cupich said, “aims at having priests step back for a moment, reflect on their own service and their own vocation call and then not only use that as an opportunity to renew themselves, but also to encourage them to share their story with others who can then be called to follow in their footsteps.”

The shortage of priests is so dire that more than 3,200 United States parishes are without resident priests, according to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University. In 25 years, the number of priests in the United States has declined 26 percent, to 42,500, as the number of Roman Catholics rose 29 percent, to 65 million.

The Rev. Edward J. Burns, executive director of the bishops’ Secretariat for Vocations and Priestly Formation, said priests in a recent workshop said that among the reasons so few actively promoted the priesthood were low morale, fear of rejection and the sexual abuse scandals.

…The program includes a new video that features a young boy who is inspired to become a priest after watching a priest at the scene of a car accident administer last rites to a dying victim. Father Burns said the video was based on a true case.

“The program will make some difference, but I don’t think it’s going to make enough difference,” said Sister Christine Schenck, who directs FutureChurch, a liberal Catholic group that advocates the ordination of women and married men as a solution to the priest shortage.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding