Theology-On-Tap: Panel examines priest shortage, scandal, and celibacy
MADISON -- The priest shortage, scandal, and celibacy were the topics a panel of young clergy addressed at a recent Theology-On-Tap presentation at Club Majestic in Madison.
Theology-On-Tap is a four-week speaker series designed for people in their 20s and 30s. This year Theology-On-Tap was held in Janesville, Madison, Platteville, and Watertown.
The panel included Fr. Jim Bartylla, vocations director; Fr. Tait Schroeder, parochial vicar, St. Dennis Parish, Madison; and Rev. Mr. Eric Sternberg, seminarian for the Diocese of Madison.
Addressing the priest shortage, Father Bartylla gave some U.S. statistics on Catholics and vocations. From 1965 to 2000, the Catholic population increased by 35 percent, but diocesan priests decreased 16 percent and religious orders decreased 33 percent. The number of those graduating from seminaries has decreased by 58 percent, but increased by 10 percent since 1995.
In the rest of the world, the total number of priests has decreased by six percent since 1970. A look at seminarians worldwide shows an increase of 73 percent since 1978 because of Pope John Paul II, he said.
The priest shortage seems to be a problem mainly in North America and Europe, he said.
The pope says the reason for the shortage is the secularization and de-Christianization of the western world, said Father Bartylla.
How do we increase vocations?
The Holy Father says because vocations flow from God, the first commitment for vocations cannot be anything but prayer," said Father Bartylla, pointing out that other dioceses have shown that Eucharistic Adoration plays a large part in increasing vocations.
As a result, Eucharistic Adoration has begun at the Bishop O'Connor Catholic Pastoral Center in Madison during the week.
"In the end, what vocation is about is a personal encounter with the Lord," said Father Schroeder. Full story ...