VATICAN CITY (CNS): Catholics must not accept the argument that a scarcity of priests is a blessing in disguise because it increases the involvement of lay people in the Church, Pope John Paul II said.
“We all know how necessary vocations are for the life, witness and pastoral action of our ecclesial communities,” the Pope said on February 14 during his annual meeting with pastors of Rome parishes and representatives of the city’s clergy.
Pope John Paul said a decrease in the number of vocations to the priesthood and religious life frequently is the “consequence of a lessening of the intensity of faith and spiritual fervour”.
“Therefore, we must not be content with the explanation that the scarcity of priestly vocations will be compensated by the growing commitment of the lay apostolate or even less that it could be desired by providence in order to favour the growth of the laity,” the Pope said.
Pope John Paul said it was obvious that in Rome and in many parts of the world there were social obstacles to making a life-long commitment to celibacy, the priesthood and religious life.
Many people today have difficulty even thinking that they could make a commitment for life that “absorbs them not in a partial and provisional way, but fully and definitively”, he said.