08 July 2015
Reasons for the Shortage of Priests in England and Wales
Following yesterday's post about the shortage of priests in Ireland, and the suggestion that it is largely a self inflicted problem, I would like to suggest that the same applies, perhaps to a lesser extent, in England an Wales. Over the last 30 years I have got to know of several cases where young men have decided to leave seminary, because their understanding of the priestly life is completely at odds with the training that they were receiving. I know of many more who experienced the same feelings, but decided to keep their heads down during the seminary years in the hope that matters would improve once they were ordained. I know of yet more who were refused entry to seminaries because they were considered too traditional. It is difficult to estimate how many candidates who would have made good priests have either been refused entry to a seminary, or been so discouraged during their time at seminary, that their vocations have been lost - certainly it is measured in hundreds over 30 years in England and Wales. I am sure that almost all of these would be described as being at the conservative end of the spectrum. The conclusion must be that if there are to be enough priests in the Church to meet the needs of future generations, the more traditional candidates can no longer be ignored.