The Vocation Crisis of the 1950's? Print
Written by Sherry   
Thursday, 09 April 2009 13:51
And one other thing I came across several times during my research trip to Denver:

Papal descriptions of a "crisis" in priestly vocation before the Second Vatican Council. Honestly, in light of the lamenting I've heard all my Catholic life, it was simply astounding.

But apparently, in the eyes of those living in the 1940's and 50's, they were not enjoying a surplus of priestly vocations - but had already noted a serious and worrying decline.

As I noted in my number crunching blog post back in March,

"In 1965, the priest/Catholic ratio in the US was about 1:777. (Here I'm using the figures from CARA)

To grasp the significance of our US experience, it helps to compare our situation to the situation in global Catholicism around the same time:

In 1970: The global priest/Catholic ratio was 1:1,557, 20.6% of the parishes in the world were without a priest-pastor, and priests made up 0.064% of the Catholic population.

Clearly, our situation was not the norm even then."

In the US, the number of priests continued to rise until 1975. But apparently, the situation before the Vatican council in Europe (about which Pope Pius XII was complaining) and the situation in Latin American (which had always been gravely deficient) were very different,

So it is becoming clear to me that when we insist that the unique American situation in the 1950's was the situation of Catholicism around the world and that the Second Vatican Council was the cause of the global drop in vocations, we are just dead wrong. A true example of American Exceptionalism.

Apparently, the Vatican was deeply worried about a decline in priestly vocations before V2 was a gleam in Pope John XXIII's eye.

I'll keep my eyes peeled for more examples of this - and document them. (I couldn't yesterday because I was under such a time crunch.)