Why the priesthood must change

After 1,500 years of consecutive church services, a Catholic parish in Ireland canceled Mass for its parishioners.

The Church of the Sacred Heart, in Boho, Co. Fermanagh, canceled a regularly scheduled service because of a shortage of priests.

This is a serious concern in Ireland and around the world. According to The Catholic News Agency; The Catholic Church is experiencing a global crisis with a shortage of priests.

The number of Catholics per priest increased from 1,895 in 1980 to 3,126 in 2012

In a study by Georgetown University, they reported; The Catholic Church in many parts of the world is facing a “priest shortage” or a “priest crisis.”

This crisis is not new.

The U.S. data confirmed that in the last 50 years the priesthood has decreased by 33%.

In 1970, the U.S. reported 37,300 priests in the church. According to Georgetown University, the most recent number is 25,800.

In America, in 1970 there was one priest for every 800 Catholics.

Today, that estimate is one priest for every 1,800. This is alarming.

Another startling detail is the number of the aged priest still working.

The statistics released from The Church Militant confirmed that there are more men over 65 years of age in the priesthood than under 35 years old.

Additional research shows that by 2025 the religious sisters, brothers, and priests over 70 years of age will exceed those under age 70 by approximately 4 to 1.

The church must find solutions

One solution is to assign a priest to minister at several locations. A high percentage of priests perform Mass for several parishes in their region.

The big question is, Why is the church facing this priesthood shortage?

First, half (51%) of candidates faced discouragement from one or more persons. They reported discouragement from friends/classmates (30%) or a family member other than a parent (21%).

Second, the priesthood is a challenging job. A priest’s duties are broad and demanding. They must provide care for others, compose sermons, speak regularly, host meetings, cast vision, oversee facilities, and stay connected to community events. Challenging for sure.

Third, salaries are below normal.

The salaries (in the US) range from 28,000 to 80,000.00 in top parishes.

Well below the levels of other college graduates.

Some priests attend college for 8–10 years and gain a master’s degree and even PhD’s. Ministry is not the ideal occupation for competitive compensation. Continue reading

  • Thomas McDaniels is an aspiring writer and the guy behind thomasmcdaniels.com.
  • Image: thomasmcdaniels.com
Additional reading

News category: Analysis and Comment.