- Strangers in a strange land
With the United Kingdom criticised for opting out of a European Union plan to resettle thousands of migrants from Africa and the Middle East, what should be the Christian response to immigration and does Scripture offer any guidance?
- Home News
- World News
- Parish Practice
- Letters Extra
- The living Spirit
- Pope in Latin America: Paraguay hopes Francis will make historic gesture of solidarity during three-nation trip
- Leading Catholics urge Duncan Smith to rethink further cuts ahead of emergency budget
- Anti-government protests ahead of Pope’s visit to South America
- Closure of London's Heythrop College puts Jesuit mission and 91 jobs at risk
- What is going on in Brentwood Diocese? Mike Lee
- What happens when you euthanase the mentally ill Sheila Hollins
- The argument between Greece and Germany is about far more than money Revd Dr Giles Fraser
The Church is celebrating an end to the decline in vocations to the priesthood and religious life as new figures reveal a modest rise in the number entering seminaries and religious houses.
Statistics released to coincide with Vocations Sunday yesterday showed that nearly 100 men and women entered convents, seminaries and religious houses across England and Wales in 2013. Some 44 men entered seminaries and 22 men and 30 women entered religious life.
This is the first time that the number of entrants to priestly formation has increased since 2010, but is significantly lower than in the 1980s, when the number of men entering diocesan seminaries stood at around 160.
Asked by The Tablet if this long-term decline indicated the need for a conversation about mandatory celibacy, the Cardinal-Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols, said: “From my point of view celibacy is a great gift in the life of the Latin Church and will remain an important quality.”
He said that the mandatory celibacy requirement was not putting people off becoming priests.
“Clearly there are exceptions and exceptions are made and I imagine those will continue, but I am quite sure that the star that shines in the life of the celibate priest is very important,” he added.
Fr Christopher Jamison OSB, Director of the National Office for Vocation, echoed the cardinal’s comments that celibacy was a gift, and said the 2013 figures represented a significant upturn compared to a decade ago.
“We have stopped the sense that the number of entries go down, down, down,” he said. “We’ve stopped the number declining inevitably and we’ve turned that round. That’s really encouraging.”
Speaking at a press conference in London on Friday Fr Christopher praised the work of diocesan and Religious vocations directors, as well as vocation groups, in fostering a “culture of vocation”, and said that an interest in discerning a vocation had increased among young Catholics.
“The issue of celibacy is obviously important to consider but the signs are that it is not the universal solution to the problem of ministry as some speak as if it were going to be,” he added.
Above: Cardinal Nichols with Fr Christopher. Photo: Catholic Church (England and Wales)