Dr Joseph Shaw has a couple of interesting posts (here and here) on statistics, vocations and the decline/or not of the Catholic Church in England. This appears to be in response to some stats released by the Office for Vocations. There appears to be some kind of debate or dispute over whether the Church is statistically declining or not, especially in terms of vocations. I found the above screen shot of a Twitter dialogue between Austen Ivereigh and Fr Stephen Morgan a little amusing though its not actually funny. Let's not deny there are any problems, Austen. Presenting a positive image or front of the state of the Catholic Church in England and Wales doesn't impress anyone in the Church, outside of the Church or onlookers in Heaven.
There is a kind of dark irony to the 'management of decline' brigade. See, you don't need that many priests if not many people are actually going to Church. The more Mass attendance declines, the less priests required. I suppose that, in theory, if the decline of the Catholic Church can be managed that well, a spike here or there may be good news, but the trend ensures general decline in the long-term. Right? We don't need lots and lots of priests because there are not lots and lots of people who need them. It's a bit like the population theorists. It's only when you get a country like Japan where they don't take on large quantities of immigrants that you see the population falling at a truly alarming rate in one country. Even here in Europe though, we are beginning to see the 'tipping point'.
Perhaps, while the LMS continue their excellent work of training Priests and Altar Servers in the Usus Antiquior, which attracts people to live out the Catholic Faith radically, the Vocations Office can offer some courses on how to arrange deck chairs on large ships that have taken on a great deal of water? Why not get Austen to run the course? I mean, isn't that what PR is all about? Come on Austen, this is the Catholic Church. Let's not do with the Catholic Church's vocations figures what the government does with unemployment figures. By the way, apparently 70,000 more people were made unemployed between December and February...but you have to put that in context...
Pray for vocations, for holy priests and holier Bishops.