Pope Francis arrives at the annual Italian Bishops' Conference in the Synod hall at the Vatican, Monday, May 21, 2018. (Credit: AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia.)
Pope Francis said this about the lack of vocations in Italy (and everywhere else): On vocations, the pontiff didn’t mince words.
“How many churches and convents have been closed in recent years for a lack of vocations, only God knows,” he said.
Francis blamed the crisis in vocations on many factors, including “a culture of the provisional,” a “culture of relativism,” the “dictatorship of money”, a “demographic inversion” in which families are having fewer children, the impact of Church scandals, and the “tepid witness” given by some priests and bishops.
In any event, the pontiff said frankly, “we’re not succeeding” at generating a sufficient number of new vocations.
“What we need is a fidei donum [system] from one diocese to the other,” he said.
The term fidei donum comes from a 1957 encyclical of Pope Pius XII, which encouraged dioceses with substantial numbers of priests to release some of them for service in mission countries which didn’t have enough priests. Today, it’s most often employed in a reverse sense, as countries in the developing world are sending some of their priests to the West to compensate for priest shortages.
“I think of some dioceses in the Piedmont, with its grand tradition [which today lacks priests],” Francis said, referring to a region of northern Italy. “Yet in Puglia there’s an over-abundance,” he said, referring to a region of the comparatively under-developed Italian south.
I don't disagree with the Holy Father on what His Holiness includes as part of the problem of a lack of vocations but it blames society too much and the post Vatican II Church too little, especially the confusion that it caused in the 1960's and 70's and the renewed confusion of that period that Pope Francis has recovered or relishes.
Yes, Church scandals are part of the problem but these have been placed on steroids in the post-Vatican II loss of Catholic identity, especially priestly identity and the majesty of God's higher calling to a priestly vocation.
Confusion about the Church's ecclesiology, the priesthood of all believers to the watering down of priestly and religious identity, the removal of beauty from religious life (i.e. distinct habit and communal lifestyle and discipline); the removal of beauty, mystery, majesty and reverence from the banal post-Vatican II sacraments, Mass in particular, with its fragmentation into many languages and cultural expressions difficult for most priests to like or desire to celebrate.
The pedestrian approach to religious life and priesthood with emphasis on being a social worker.
The self-referential ecclesiology of the post Vatican II Church symbolized in dramatic fashion by the priest-celebrity facing the congregation for Mass, the heresy of univeralism which has resulted from ecumenical, interfaith and worldly dialouge that see all things as equal if we could just all get along and a strong desire to protestantize the Catholic Church and her liturgies to get along better with protestants and maybe have the same kind of unity they have under the protestant umbrella.
A removal of the monarchical trapping of the hierarchy which pointed to Christ the Risen King and the Kingdom of God.