The Disease And The Wrong Cure

A dedicated, strong priest never looks ridiculous or weak. Never.

Read here an article of the National Catholic Reporter about the vocation crisis among the US Hispanics.

The article is particularly interesting for some, I think, rather extraordinary affirmations of Auxiliary Bishop Nevares of Phoenix; affirmations that I would like to share with you:

Auxiliary Bishop Eduardo Nevares of Phoenix believes that because Hispanics have such a strong sense of family that they don’t want to leave to attend seminary

This is very interesting. We learn from this that in the past, when Mexico and Latin America didn’t even know how to spell “vocation crisis”, the sense of the family must not have been so strong. Bad times, I suppose.

Even better is the second explanation:

Additionally, young Hispanic men have a sense of obligation to help support the family financially, which they cannot do in the seminary.

This is also very instructive, because it teaches us that in the past, when Mexico was infinitely poorer than the Hispanics today living in the US are, young boys did not hesitate in plunging their families into destitution and utter misery.

Bishop Nevares’s conclusion is, then, perfectly aligned with his “pass the buck” premises:

“We need to persuade young married people that having a son that is a priest is honorable and will bring many blessings to a family,” said the bishop. “It is a wonderful gift to have a child that is a priest.”

Yes, let us make a bit of marketing for the priesthood, says the bishop. If we just could explain. Perhaps a Power Point presentation would be useful? This way the bishop could impress the family, who would then say to him “Pedro and Armando are already too much into wine and songs, but we’ll talk to our youngest, Benito, who might be interested”.

It seems to me that bishop Nevares looks for the culprit in the wrong place – the society out there – rather than where he should – inside the Church structures, and in the mentality reigning within her -.

The mere idea of a bishop thinking that priesthood be a matter of mentality of his faithful is not very reassuring. This is an entirely secular thinking, which in turn cannot but reflect the way a diocese organises its affairs and, in turn, the way it is seen by its faithful. A Church focused on the world will never have enough vocations, a Church focused on God always will.

Is it a surprise that the Hispanic population, who has been so systematically deprived of the very bases of Catholic instruction – at the point of giving massive support to Obama in the 2008 election – does not produce vocations? Where is the relentless defence of Catholic values that would allow the Hispanic families to rediscover the importance and dignity of the priestly office? Where are the brave, manly priests able to inflame a child’s heart with love for God and to let him desire to be, one day, himself on that pulpit, fighting God’s fight? Where is the constant stress of the role of the priest as Alter Christus, the explanation and constant reminding of his unique role in the economy of salvation, the constant stressing of the miracle which takes place daily through him?

If you make of a priest a vaguely pathetic wannabe social worker who can’t marry – and rather often not even a very masculine one at that – is it a surprise that this priest will not be taken as model, will not inspire anyone to want to become as largely irrelevant and vaguely superfluous as they themselves are? Vocations are the result of the young being taught properly and being instructed about the role of the priest, and of the young seeing these priest both taking their sacramental role seriously and fighting the good fight. Prestige is not a matter of marketing or of persuasion, and the uniqueness of the priest’s role can’t be properly transmitted if the rest of the church’s activity, and the daily actions of the priests themselves, contradict the marketing slogans.

I wonder how many Traditional Masses these dioceses with vocation problems have, because I do not know any situation in which a massive use of the Tridentine Mass doesn’t go together with healthy, or very healthy, vocations. For crying out loud, the SSPX is in imperfect communion and they don’t know where to put all their seminarians – seminarians who look forward to suspensio a divinis the day they are ordained! – and reasonably wealthy, growing communities of dioceses perfectly aligned to Rome complain about vocations and blame the “secular mentality” out there? Where do they think the conservative/traditionalist orders live, on Mars?

Again, both the analysis of the bishop and the proposed solution show where the problem lie: the consciousness that vocations will come when Catholicism (in the liturgy; in the instruction of the faithful; in the defence of Catholic values) is taken seriously again is just not there.


Posted on July 12, 2011, in Catholicism and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. M, Living here in the states among a great Hispanic minority, you know what the problem is—frighteningly bad catechesis. Many Hispanics are no longer drawn to the abyssmal Novus Ordo and very few understand Eucharistic theology. Catholicism for most is boring. They are drawn to the megachurches which cater to their culture, their music, and Bible thumping. They want to feel “Christ” burning in their bosom and want to feel very emotional about being “Christian”. Latin American is overrun with Evangelical Protestantism and Mormonism. Mormons complain that their Hispanic converts still cling to Our Lady of Guadelupe, and for that we can be thankful. We all must pray to Our Lady of Guadelupe–that she will bless many young men and the seeds of love for the priesthood will take root.

    So much abyssmal news of the Church in North America today. Did you watch Michael Voris and the coming persecution?

    • Yes Susie I agree, the thing is very visible even from here as the massive support for Obama cannot have come from properly instructed Catholics.

      I can’t remember watching the Voris’ video but can understand what he means. This i swhy, I think, the battle over same sex so-called marriage must be ferocious, the nazi liberals are going for Christianity ‘s jugular and must be stopped as long as there’s time.


  2. The hispanics could have been the torchbearers of Catholicism in America, like the Irish were from the famine until Vatican II.

    The Protestants in Latin America have a lot of wealth but a very high defection rate. I suspect evangelical Protestantism will come crashing down eventually. It’s based on appeal to sensations and feelings. Something like that will not stand.

    • Shane, can you tell me a bit more about the defection rate? If you have some interesting link, I’d like that too.

      I thought that the Proddies were simply exploding in Latin America. It would be nice to see that many Catholics come back to their own shabby, but authentic house after a while.


  3. “the battle over same sex so-called marriage must be ferocious” – if only that were possible in these days of an timid, compliant, and emasculated clergy.

    There are very few Don Camillos left.

    • Very true, leftfooter.

      Still, I think that to ignite the powder of Catholicism just a small elite would suffice. A handful of very courageous bishops in every one of the big European countries, and a couple of dozen in the United States, would change the way the Church is perceived and force the timid ones to becom eless timid. In time, the priests – of which the younger seem not bad, at all – would follow suit.

      But as you say, the labourers are few…


  4. Very insightful observations, as usual, Mundabor. I largely agree. But it appears to me that there is indeed a connection between the vocations crisis and the need to support the family (for instance one’s parents). Modernist (or Neo-Reformationist) Catholics usually do not have particularly large families. They don’t follow the teaching of the church in so many matters, and certainly not in the area of birth-control. Therefore, they often have only one son. And he may indeed legitimately feel that he has an obligation to “continue the familiy line” so to speak. This may be especially deeply ingrained in Hispanic families (I don’t know).

    On the other hand, Traditional Catholic families, following the teachings of the Church, have mostly large families, and therefore more than one son. The problem arising out of very small families (that are endemic across Europe and in large parts of the US) is in my opinion therefore indeed one of the reasons for the dearth of priestly vocation.

    Of course, the bishop probably did not think this way and had something like a secular marketing campaign in mind, as far as I can see. But in addition to the reasons you list (missing spiritual nourishment in the Novus Ordo, missing catechesis and so on) this might also be something to consider. This is not only a matter of catechesis, as most Catholics probably have heard (at least) that the Church “is against birth-control” or “against the pill”, but ignore this teaching completely out of a willing submission to the spirit of the age. Even if those Catholics were well-catechized, they would still not obey the teachings they don’t like.

    As a recent convert to the Church (I was received on Easter 2011) who grew up without any kind of religious instruction and never came into contact with authentic Catholic teaching until 2008, I have to give credit for my conversion to some “Catholic Blogs” which introduced me to the timeless beauty and absolute truth of authentic Catholicism – something I have still not found in the (as far as they go, relatively good) Novus Ordo Parish I am forced to attend (there is no Traditional Mass in my area, probably because of episcopal obstruction of Summorum Pontificum). So I can testify to the fact that traditional Catholicism is still able to reach the hearts and minds of “modern” people and watered-down “catholicism” is not. I’m quite sure that the same trajectory holds in the area of vocations, because, in my experience, I am able to surprise (!) the cradle Catholics in my parish by sometimes talking about the Real Presence or the real function of the priest as “Alter Christus”.

    • What a beautiful post, catocon, and what a beautiful story!

      Yes I agree with you on everything, but as you say, the families having only one child is also another reflection of their secular mentality. A priest who doesn’t address the problem will not have much success with saying “it’s so beautiful to have a priest son” 😉

      Again, congratulations!


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