1. It is the final requirement for my class.
2. As a member of the Roman Catholic Church, it is my obligation as a member to know what my church is going through and share in her responsibilities. 3. As a former person in formation to the diocesan priesthood, I would like to reflect once again if my reasons and influences for leaving the formation and pursue a different vocation are similar or in connection with the reasons given for the decline of priests and religious vocations. I will present the factors related to the decline of priests and religious vocations proposed by the various studies of social scientists. I will also try to suggest options on dealing with the factors of the decline based on the findings of the same studies.
Vatican II and the other Factors for the Decline of Priests and Religious Vocations
There is a steady decline in religious vocations, priesthood particularly in the United States, according to the study of Lawrence A. Young. He claims that “…by the year 2015, the priest population will have declined by roughly 45 percent from its 1966 levels.” If there is a decline, then what are the factors, direct or indirect, for the decline?
As I move on with my study, some of the studies show that the major culprit for the decline of priests and religious vocations is the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965). As Stark and Finke maintains, “Some propose that the decline in Catholic vocations was caused by the radical revisions in religious roles adopted by the Vatican Council II. They argue that, as many of the most central sacred aspects of the religious roles were dismissed or discontinued, the sacred gratifications of religious vocations were thereby greatly reduced as were features of the religious life that sustained and even generated these gratifications” Stark and Finke continues, “…the Council withdrew the doctrine that the religious life is morally superior and equated the holiness of the religious and the laity….the religious became unrecognizable and thus no longer the object of special treatment and respect in public.” Schoenherr and Young makes the same argument, “Prior to the Second Vatican Council, the Catholic Church in the United States experienced a long period of sustained growth in its priesthood population….In our larger study of the population dynamics of the U.S. diocesan priests, we discovered that the priesthood began declining in size after 1968, and we projected continued losses through the turn of the century (Schoenherr and Young 1990a). Religious vocation obviously lost its grandeur and appeal to recruits and prospective recruits, thus leading to its decline.
To further the discussion on the effects of the Second Vatican Council on the decline of religious...