Green Room

Next generation of Catholic clergy more conservative?

posted at 11:52 am on January 27, 2013 by

Ashley McGuire, senior fellow at the Catholic Association, says to expect the next generation of Catholic priests to be different from their recent predecessors.  After a long fight over abortion, and now the government intrusion of the HHS mandate, the seminaries are seeing an upswing in traditionalists and conservatives — perhaps more than anything seen since Vatican II:

The Great Catholic Awakening is a revival of Catholic orthodoxy among youth in the Catholic Church.

My generation of Catholics, men and women in their 20s and 30s, inherited a suffocating spiritual ennui inside the church and a culture of death, promiscuity, sadness, and fear outside her doors.

We were born into a world where millions of babies die of abortion annually, where countless more unborn babies are suspended silently in freezers, where we are told gender is random and marriage is amorphous and dissolvable.

We inherited hell on earth. …

Speaking of record growth at the Washington, D.C. based Dominican House of Studies, Rev. Thomas Joseph White says:

“Young men entering seminary today are coming out of a secular culture and have often made a counter-cultural choice to be Catholic. Our house is receiving more vocations than at any time since the 1960’s, and the men entering tend to be strongly supportive of the teachings of Pope Benedict XVI. They are interested in the recovery of more traditional forms of Christian belief and practice, but also in the evangelization of their peers.”

The trend toward conservatism is liturgical and cultural as well as political, and might have something to do with changing demographics:

The study found that younger nuns entered religious life with positive attitudes about the church and authority and chose orders based on their fidelity to the church. It’s not surprising then, as John Allen noted,that the liberal Leadership Conference of Women Religious has just one percent of female religious orders with more than ten sisters in formation versus 28 percent in the conservative Conference of Major Superiors of Women.

The National Catholic Reporter, a left-leaning Catholic publication admitted, “To put all this into a sound-bite, the next generation of religious will be more ethnically diverse and more traditional.”

This tends to jibe with what I’ve seen, too.  One acquaintance told me that his fellow seminarians were almost all conservative now, which surprised him.  I’m less surprised.  I think the past 40 years, and perhaps the past 12 months especially, have produced a change in perspective for Catholics in general, but specifically for those who feel the call of vocations.

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