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.