FRANCE, A VOCATIONAL DESERT

– Aldo Maria Valli

In France the crisis of vocations is becoming increasingly evident. According to data provided by La Croix, the new ordinations for this year are 114, compared to 133 in 2017.

Eighty-two of the new priests are diocesan, while the others are members of various orders and societies of apostolic life.

Paris and Bordeaux are the dioceses with the highest number of new orders, six each, but in the case of Paris there is a downturn compared to the ten ordinations of 2017 and to the eleven of 2016.

Lyon, Versailles and Fréjus-Toulon have five ordinations each, then there is Evry with four. But the most striking fact is that 58 dioceses do not even have a new ordination.

On the contrary, the communities of “traditionalist” inspiration, where priests celebrate Holy Mass mainly according to the ancient rite, have an ever-increasing number of ordinations. La Croix calculates that at least twenty percent of the new priests come this year from communities considered “traditional” or “classic.” Three new ordinations are from the Institute of the Good Shepherd, two from the Priestly Fraternity of St Peter (FSSP) and two from the Institute of Christ the King. It should be noted that most of the younger priests come from these groups.

According to La Croix, in France, in the face of the general crisis of vocations, the number of late vocations continues to increase: the number of elderly people preparing for the priesthood is constantly increasing year by year. Among these is the new archbishop of Paris, Michel Aupetit, who entered the seminary at the age of 39.

A survey by the French Bishops’ Conference among the seminarians of the first and second year, conducted in 2016, found that four percent were between the ages of 36 and 40, while another two percent were among 41 and 45 years.

According to the Statistical Yearbook of the Church in the world in 2016, the trend of priestly vocations confirms the decline, in line with previous years. The 116,843 major seminarians passed in 2015 from 116.843 (2015) to 116.160 (less 683, that is to say 0,6%). The vocations ratio (seminarians every 100.000 catholics) pass from 9,09% to 8,94%.

America (especially the southern one) is the continent with the lowest vocation rate (5.13 seminarians for every 100,000 Catholics). Europe follows closely, with a quotient equal to 6.17.

In the world, between 2010 and 2016, the decrease of seminarians was 2,830 men. The decline was constant in Europe and in the American continent, where, in the period under review, the decrease was 4,082 men for America and 2,949 for Europe. Asia recorded an active balance, with an increase of 779 persons in the entire period and the maximum point in 2012. Balance also active in Africa, where the number of major seminarians has constantly increased with an increase, from 2010 to 2016, of 3,538 men.

(From Duc in altum, 2017©AP. Used with permission)

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