Friday, 19 April 2013

Crisis? What Crisis?

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.


Katalina said...

This writer must not have been aware of the news that I saw just yesterday on two different sites about the greatest number of Vocations since the 1950's. The increase is the largest in recent times since 1996. So yes while the state of the Institutional Church is bleak there is the growing "Creative Minority" which just happens to be more Traditional and Orthodox. This "Mustard Seed" Church is growing everywhere in the world (even as far as Japan)

BJC said...

Austen sounds as if he's writing for Pravda and in that trench coat he looks the part as well. I was half expecting him to say that wheat production was up again for the 10th straight year.

What I'd like to know about him though is does he even know what the Catholic faith is in a coherent way. I suspect he doesn't and his faith is no more than a belief in God, bits and pieces he can still remember from school and the fact he was born a Catholic. He always seems lost as to why there are 'gloom mongers' and complaints in the church but perhaps if he studied the Catechism of the Catholic Church and compared it with what I suspect is his own ropey knowledge he would see what all the fuss is about. I won't be holding my breath though because Austen seems to be the sort who's like the three monkeys who say "see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil".

Peter Standish said...

The main point in the discussion between AI and Joseph Shaw seems to be the dislocation of data before 1980. The stats since then are clear, there has been a useful recovery in admissions to seminary and ordinations recently. Let's pray that that continues.

How that compares with earlier decades is not at all clear. The data from the vocations office appears incomplete, and what Dr Shaw and Trisagion have presented may be measuring different things (e.g. student numbers at seminaries in the earlier years may be high, but how many completed and were ordained?). There is certainly a useful research project there.
Based on the later data presented Austen Ivereigh is quite correct to suggest optimism. Dr Shaws questions are equally appropriate, but given a more or less complete dislocation in the data sets, it's not correct to make assertions either way until it is possible to look at equivalent data sets.

Nothing in any of the referenced postings however supports the rather despicable comment above by BJC.

BJC said...

Forgot to add one thing that Austen and the rest of the Tablet crowd won't be pleased about in the current figures is the number of orthodox young Catholics coming forward for the priesthood. I know someone who was at Valladolid last year and he told me and I quote "all of us are orthodox". I know 4/5 of the seminarians at Allen Hall and they tell me the same thing. Also the lecturers they say are mostly very good and don't teach dodgy stuff. As one said to me "all we want is the authentic Catholic faith". Tina Beattie I don't think will be getting an invite.
They all know what the Tablet is all about and the phony liberal Catholicism it tries to preach.

In 20-30 years time things could look very different and the liberals are beginning to look like King Canute.

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