roman catholic

The Future of the Catholic Church

From the BBC:

Catholic nuns and monks decline

Women form the majority of the “members of the consecrated life”
The Vatican has reported a further dramatic fall in the number of Roman Catholic monks and nuns worldwide.

Newly published statistics showed that the number of men and women belonging to religious orders fell by 10% to just under a million between 2005 and 2006.

With some orders falling – not failing, but their numbers are falling – and the increase of laity running the churches, mostly women at around 70-something percent (mostly locally of course), I am curious as to where the Catholic church will end up in the next twenty years. I know a few professors for who whom this trend gives them hope, for they say that eventually the base of the church will force needed changes in the hierarchy.

I have to admit that I was unsure about their hope, but if there is a serious decline in the orders, I suppose for me it is easier to see why there would be the hope. Catholicism isn’t dying, it’ll just eventually have to change to let women and married people in on a more serious level, instead of demanding celibacy of its clergy or excluding women. I think I could live with that.

Still, for other reasons, I do worry about the falling of numbers for the orders. Traditionally the orders functioned as a reforming arm of the church. It was in the orders (or at least the first few generations of the order, until the order itself needed reform) that imaginative space was made for both reforming the church and engaging culture. I know orders won’t simply disappear, but I do worry about losing the sizable presence of those seeking reform. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

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7 thoughts on “The Future of the Catholic Church

  1. claire says:

    This is really dramatic and certainly will have an impact on the church as we know it.
    I’d be very interested to know the projections for the UK in terms of numbers of preists/religious – but they don’t seem to be available.
    I’m surprised considering the clear decline in the figures that the church doesn’t share this information more widely with the laity. It’s clearly going to affect the numbers of parishes that will be viable in an area.
    Certainly in the UK the catholic church is secretive about it’s projections for the future- wouldn’t it be more helpful to be honest so that planning could be better carried out. Of course it will upset some – but isn’t it better to face reality head on in this instance?

  2. Joe says:

    The start of the third millennium has been anything but promising for the Catholic Church. In fact, the church’s insistance on literal and biologistic interpretations of miracles, the virgin birth, ascension, and resurrection are superstitious and medieval!

    What if the biblical stories could be understood symbolically in such a way that they can become present and healing to readers today.

    As long as the Vatican insists on enslaving its clergy psychologically and mentally, this church will face increased criticism and rejection in the Western world and will not survive.

  3. Rob says:

    We are seeing a “shaking” as the bible describes – Hebrews chapter 11 verese 22 to 29 speak about it clearly.
    The Shaking of the physical earth
    The Shaking of nations
    The Shaking of the religious world

    So don’t be suprised when you see why these shakings must take place and where they will lead to. If you haven’t read the bible do so now! Be informed, be prepared and don’t be alarmed!

    Heaven and Earth will pass away but my words will not pass away – said Jesus. It does not need a PhD in Theology to understand Jesus, just the right heart and mind and spirit.

  4. James Short says:

    Just as surely as knowledge will expand, the church will shrink. The decline of the church is inexorable. This is progress for the race. Some good remnant will remain.

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