Vatican City, Mar 8, 2017 / 12:22 pm
In a newly-released interview Pope Francis discussed the shortage of vocations to the priesthood, saying the first response must be prayer. He also mentioned working with youth, the low birthrate, and the ordination of married men.
“The first [response] – because I speak as a believer – the Lord told us to pray. Prayer, prayer is missing,” Pope Francis said in an interview with German weekly Die Zeit published March 8.
He called the lack of priests, to the point that some parishes are cared for by female “community leaders” in Switzerland, “a problem that the Church must resolve.”
After prayer, he recommended working “with youth who are seeking orientation. And this is very difficult, the work with youth, but it must be done because they ask for this: the youth are the great discarded ones in modern society, because they have no work in many countries.”
“For vocations, there is also another problem,” he said, “the problem of the birthrate. If there are no young men there can be no priests.”
He repeated his caution against “proselytism,” saying, “You can’t gain vocations with proselytism. 'Proselytism' – as if it were a charity society that makes you a partner.”
Without priestly vocations “the Church is weakened, because a Church without the Eucharist doesn’t have strength: the Church makes the Eucharist, but the Eucharist also makes the Church. The problem of vocations is a serious problem.”
Turning to the question of relaxing permissions for the ordination of married men and the requirement of priestly celibacy, he said that “optional celibacy is discussed, above all where priests are needed. But optional celibacy is not the solution.”