The Latin Mass Society RC Diocese of Middlesbrough
The purpose of this blog is to provide an open forum for discussion of the aims of the society; news from the wider Church and details of Masses and events of interest in the diocese. The Latin Mass Society in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Middlesbrough expresses its full filial devotion and loyalty to Holy Mother Church, Pope Benedict XVI and Bishop Drainey.
The coming of Ascension Day, tomorrow, reminds me that we are still waiting for the Conference of Catholic Bishops of England and Wales to make a statement transferred Holydays. One might have expected them to have something to say following their recent meeting in Rome.
The bishops were taken a little bit by surprise when there was widespread opposition to Holydays being transferred. It was widely rumoured that there was agreement that the matter should be reviewed, but the years pass by with no public statement. Maybe the bishops need a gentle reminder.
I have had another look at where our readers are located. In the last week, the top six countries are:
The York pilgrimage probably accounts for a spike in UK figures, and USA is generally at or near the top. However, the showing of China, India, Ukraine and Russia would seem to suggest continuing interest in traditional Catholicism in Asiatic and former communist countries. All good news for the Church.
The procession setting out from St Wilfrid's Church
You will see that the statue of St Margaret Clitherow was carried along with a couple of banners, one for the Latin Mass Society and th other for St Margaret Clitherow. The procession continues off the edge of the picture.
Here is the elevation at the Mass celebrated by Canon Montjean.
Some readers may have been following on other blogs a debate about how the number of ordinations in the last few years compares with earlier times. It started with the National Office for Vocations publishing some obviously erroneous figures, from which it was asserted that the current numbers are vastly higher than the numbers for the 1930s and 1940s.
After some delving, I found a table of statistics on a website called ukpriest. This is an official website of the National Vocations Office, so should be reasonably reliable. Amongst other figures, it gives the number of priests in England and Wales for each decade from 1841 to 2001, with the exception of the year 1891 which is missing. One presumes that it includes religious as well as secular clergy. Here is the relevent extract:
These are numbers of priests, so to get to ordinations, we would need to know the number of priests who die or leave the priesthood each decade. I do not have this information. However, the trend is very obvious. The number of priests increases each decade until 1971after which it decreaseseach decade.
Analysis can only be as good as the raw data, and I have some suspicions about some of the figures. Can anyone explain th big increases indicated in 1881, 1911 and 1941?
One thing that struck me last week when I was at the priest and server training conference in Leicester was the number of prospective priests amongst the servers. Included in the twenty or so laymen who had enrolled for the purpose of learning to serve, or of improving their serving skills, there were at least four who were intinding to pursue their vocation to the priesthood. Most of these had made alpplications to their bishops or diocesan directors of vocations, and been advised to go away for a period and gain a little experience of the world before resubmitting an application.
Thinking back over earlier training conferences, I recall that in each of the last four years there have been a significant numberof young men who were quite open about their intention to pursue a priestly vocation. Some are now in seminaries, including those of the traditional societies, and others are still waiting to be accepted.
Meeting so many of these prospective priests, one cannot help but feel that in future decades, those parishes lucky enough to have a resident priest will be in good hands. This view tends to be reinforced whenever one meets current seminarians or indeed newly ordained priests. The quality seems pretty good.
The downside is that, however one looks at the statistics, the number of active priests in England and Wales is likely to continue to decline for another twenty years. The next ten years is fairly predictable as most of the priests that will be ordained in this period are already in seminary or in a process of discerning their vocation. For the situation to improve after that, there would have to be fairly major upturn in the number of vocations. There are some signs that this is already happening in a minor way.
A factor that is rarely taken into consideration when predicting the numbers of future priests is the selection process. Of course we will never know what criteria bishops use when deciding whether to select or reject a particular candidate. However, my impression is that many of the young men that I have seen taking part in LMS training conferences would not have passed the selection process a decade ago. They would have been considered over pious, too traditional, or possibly branded as insufficiently mature. Fortunately these views are changing.
So this leads me to wonder: Could it be that the shortage of priests need not have happened? Is it, at least in part, due to the rejection of many candidates who would have made excellent priests?
It is less than three weeks to this pilgrimage, so get the date entered into your diary. The Rudgate Singers will again be providing the musical settings for both Mass and Benediction, and I understand that they are preparing something rather special,