The U.S. bishops’ report as of Jan. 1, 2012, reveals 39,718 priests, compared to the peak of 59,803 in 1963.
The U.S. faithful have increased from 43.9 million in 1963 to 69.1 million in 2012. The decline in the number of priests reflects a change from 776 faithful per priest to 1,740 faithful per priest. In 1952, the ratio was 661 faithful per priest.
The number of U.S. seminarians peaked at 48,992 in 1965 but is now below 6,000 seminarians annually during the past 20 years.
It is calculated that there will be approximately 30,000 U.S. priests in 2032, while the faithful will number close to 90 million, meaning 3,000 faithful per priest. U.S. religious sisters peaked at 177,154 in 1963, and today they number 55,045.
Worldwide, priests numbered 432,247 in 1963 and today number 412,236, while the number of religious sisters declined from 1.01 million to 721,935.
The statistical status in Europe reveals 190,150 priests in 2012 and 274,818 in 1963. European sisters numbered 578,327 in 1963 and 286,042 sisters in 2012.
The papally approved canonical Catholic solution exists in Slovakia and Ukraine.
From 1945 to 1989, Slovakia’s priesthood was decimated by the Soviet regime. However, within 20 years after the Soviet atheist communists departed, every parish church building was recovered, and each parish had at least one Catholic priest.
Now, the seminaries are overflowing, and there are two vocations for each opening. Today, Slovakia exports missionary priests from their oversupply of priests.
Joseph P. Bonchonsky
Mount Shasta, California
In the wake of the horrific events of Dec. 14 in Newtown, Conn. ("In the Face of Horror, Faith in Action," Dec. 30 issue), there has been much talk about school security and gun control; and these may very well be discussions worth having.
But one discussion no one seems to be having (certainly not in the media, the halls of Congress or the White House) is the discussion about the 3,000 children slaughtered every day in the abortion mills of our nation.
Proponents of abortion cite the common mantra that it should be "legal, safe and rare." But this presents a contradiction in logic because, by definition, that which is "legal" will generally come to be regarded as "good," since the very purpose of the law is to ensure and protect the common welfare. And what reason is there to believe that something generally regarded as good will somehow become rare? (Will those in favor of stricter gun regulation be content to merely embrace the philosophy that guns should be "legal, safe and rare"?)
The reality is that, with the legalization of abortion 40 years ago, whether consciously or unconsciously, the understanding of the sanctity of human life was utterly compromised. (It has been reasonably argued that Roe v. Wade is not a just law, on the grounds that it violates both the natural and moral law.)
Our public-school curriculum has centered itself on the modern "virtue" of toleration, yet the law tells us that the existence of an unwanted child need not be tolerated. We pour vast resources into anti-bullying campaigns, yet our most vulnerable and defenseless do not receive the protection of the state.
Given this sort of moral schizophrenia, is it any wonder that we so often witness acts that can only be described as depraved and insane?
We pride ourselves on being sophisticated enough to recognize the evils of other civilizations, past and present, that attempt to couch themselves in seemingly benevolent terms like "ethnic cleansing" and "population control." Yet we fail to see our own hypocrisy in trying to justify infanticide with platitudes like "reproductive freedom" and "the right to choose."
The simple reality, the one that we refuse to see, is that there can never be respect for life outside of the womb when there is no respect for life within the womb.
If lawmakers are serious about combating the lethal violence that plagues our nation, they should focus not on gun control, but, rather, on the reversal of Roe v. Wade.
Michael T. Cibenko
Branchville, New Jersey
The pro-life rally in Dublin’s Merrion Square on Jan. 19 was a huge success with, according to police estimates, 35,000 people on hand to protest renewed efforts to introduce abortion to Ireland.
Groups traveled in buses and cars from all counties, including those in Northern Ireland, where Ireland’s first Marie Stopes business is set up but not in operation because of intense picketing by Belfast protesters.
The Dublin rally was highly organized, with many students in attendance and with the energetic fervor of Youth Defense Ireland. The crowd, stretching down almost to Trinity College, was well equipped with an array of well-designed and appropriate signs.
Several speakers addressed the crowd and included medical doctors and lawyers. The crowd’s enthusiastic chant of "pro-life, pro-life" was tweeted to the political leader’s cellphone and sent to his voicemail as a reminder of Ireland’s enduring pro-life pulse.
Thomas Warner, M.D.
Madison, Wisconsin (and Galway, Ireland)
Doe Expanded Roe
Relative to your coverage of the March for Life Jan. 25:
If you and your writers are going to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision(s) that legalized abortion in all nine months of a woman’s pregnancy, please be more specific: It was Doe v. Bolton that removed the Roe v. Wade restrictions and allowed abortions at any time and for any reason.
By ignoring the fact that it’s also the 40th anniversary of Doe v. Bolton, you are cooperating with abortion advocates who have worked hard to keep Doe v. Bolton buried far from the debate. They know how vital Doe is as an educational tool.
Pro-life leaders have been negligent in allowing it to continue for so many years. The Catholic media is especially guilty for not informing Catholics on how Doe redefined and expanded the reach of Roe.
In 1992, the Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops put out a pamphlet, "Do You Know Doe?" The main point of the pamphlet is: If you don’t know Doe v. Bolton, you can’t know Roe v. Wade.
When the 1973 Supreme Court handed down its two decisions on abortion, it said that they should be read together.
Roe v. Wade established the legality of abortion with restrictions; Doe swallowed the Roe restrictions.
Every verbal or written reference made to Roe v. Wade, particularly in connection with late-term abortions, should include Doe v. Bolton.
Abortion advocates know that when the average person understands how Doe changed Roe they become more educated on the totality of the abortion evil. Only then can they understand that it was Doe v. Bolton that gave us the Tiller-type death mills.
Obviously, if Roe is reversed, Doe becomes irrelevant; but that has nothing to do with using every possible means at our disposal to help all Americans understand how the Supreme Court used the Doe v. Bolton decision to expand the diabolical reach of Roe and sentenced millions more of our unborn children to a violent death.
We support and pray for EWTN and Mother Angelica.
Charles N. Marrelli
"A Cancer in Society" (Letters to the Editor, Jan. 13 issue) states, "Every day in America 3,000 unborn children are killed — not by guns — yet we are silent."
In the context of the story, a reader might conclude that 3,000 is the total number of babies aborted each day. In fact, this is the approximate number killed by surgical abortions. Add in the number of homicides of unborn babies caused by the pill (a hormonal contraceptive) and other chemical and mechanical means, and, according to Pharmacists for Life International, the death rate becomes a shocking 22,000-36,000 per day.
Charles O. Coudert
Freedom From Sin
Thank you for your article on plenary indulgences ("Indulgences Are a Gift From the Church," Nov. 4 issue).
It conveys information sorely needed but sadly lacking. Your sidebar listing the conditions for indulgences is especially helpful.
One note on condition No. 6: having to be free of all attachment to sin. This should not throw your readers over much. My understanding is that a simple act of faith expressing the desire to be free of sin and attachment to it suffices. (Perhaps something on the order of: "O Lord, let me be free of sin and all attachment to sin.")
One can never be 100% certain on this matter, thus the sincere desire would suffice.