Vatican reports ‘crisis of vocations’ as numbers fall worldwide

The number of seminarians has fallen amid what a Vatican document calls a “crisis of vocations”.

Between 2012 and 2016, the number of men in seminary training for the priesthood fell by nearly 4,000, to 116,160.

The decline has been especially concentrated in the Americas and Europe. In Africa seminary numbers have steadily increased, with Uganda, Cameroon, Tanzania and Madagascar (an outlier with a 66 per cent rise) providing an especially large number of future priests.

Seminary numbers, the report says, reached “a maximum in 2012 followed by a slow decrease”. This pattern was seen in several places including North America and Mexico.

The figures come in the Vatican’s official statistical record, the Annuarium Statisticum Ecclesiae, whose headline figures were published on Wednesday.

They show that the world’s proportion of baptised Catholics stayed around the same from 2010-16: it was an estimated 1.299bn in 2016, more than a sixth of the world’s population.

Africa has the fastest-growing Catholic population: it rose from 185m in 2010 to 228m in 2016.

Europe saw a rise of just 0.2 per cent over the same period – but because the continent’s population growth is itself stagnating, this represented a slight rise in the overall proportion.

According to the new figures, in 2016 there were 414,969 priests: more than two-thirds were diocesan clergy, the rest in religious orders. The overall priest population fell by 0.2 per cent from 2014-16, thanks to a numerical decline in Europe, North America and the Middle East.

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11 thoughts on “Vatican reports ‘crisis of vocations’ as numbers fall worldwide

  1. Need of the hour is not to speak about the past glory or blunders. One should not go ahead with accusations and blame game. What is the need of the hour and go ahead with an action plan. Come to ground level reality and join hands with one another by fostering unity and contribute our own mite in overcoming the various problems faced by the church. God Bless every one.

  2. The Holy Spirit is the breath that not only enlivens the body (“brick n mortar” of our Church) but also restores order n system, instead of making it a chaotic mess of confusion n doubt among her faithful (God’s children)
    Couldn’t agree more to The Truth that our Church lives on because of Lord Jesus (by the will of HIS Father n the works of HIS Holy Spirit) Who has NEVER abandoned HIS bride (The Church) ever, regardless of the state she is in.. HIS LOVE for her endures forever..
    Much prayers n love everyone 🙂

  3. When Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, He yielded up His spirit. At that moment the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom” (Matthew 27:50-51). The veil had separated ordinary believers from the divine presence. Only the high priest was permitted to pass beyond this veil once each year to enter into God’s presence in the Holy of Holies of the Jerusalem Temple. He performed a sacrifice there in atonement to the sins of all of Israel. With the tearing of the veil, everyone has been given direct access to God. No intercession of the priest is required any more. But priesthood continued in Christianity since the institutionalized Church needed them to hold onto its power by enforcing its hegemony over the faithful. Christians do not need priests. The institutionalized Church alone needs priests.

  4. Why nuns only ,women volunteers can be appointed. We should really make it a limited company with a lay man or woman as its president The generalbody must appoint Pope and Bishops
    This is not any taunt. This is an opinion. Will Matters India publish this

  5. One predicts collapse of the Church. Here another opinion is to ordain nuns to priesthood. Another fact is we all belong to the royal priesthood. Jesus said he would continue to be with the Church. Expert opinion says Church is not brick and mortar in Vatican. That is also correct. Jesus also said that the poor would always be with us. The best solution is demolition. Consider what should be demolished—-Vatican and the idea Christ founded a Church on the rock of Peter Or the ideology that Christ was against Land,Labour and Management and an opponent of all mundane prosperity.Or Christ is The Truth, the Life and the Way .

  6. Society is rapidly changing. Vocation promotors need to be empowered and deployed with relevant, modern, and state-of-the-art spiritual and emotional toolkits.

  7. Falling and rising is part of life. God surprises the humans with His creative works. Hence, the so called falling number in vocations may lead something to new !Let us be hopeful!

  8. This so-called crisis is the march of time. Earlier large and possibly impoverished families were happy to “sacrifice” a son to become a priest especially if he landed himself a lucrative post.
    Today with small nuclear families and gulf money the traditional fertile grounds for vocations in India have dried up.

  9. If there is any crisis of vocations, then the Vatican should consider ordaining nuns to priesthood. This seems to be inevitable in near future.

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