|Bishop Dominique Rey of Toulon-Frejus|
At least in France, even the Liberal Bishops have a use for Traditionalists. In Germany at present, it appears that only the beleaguered Bishop Vitus Huonder is putting his Traditional priests to work.
Here's the translation:
(Paris) In the academic year 2011/12 710 seminarians are preparing themselves for the priesthood in France. That is down from the previous year's 732 candidates at about a decline of three percent, since the 2009/10 year already had 756 candidates.
In comparison the number of seminarians since the end of World War II till the end of the Council, were as much as six times as high. In 1966, the year in which the Pastoral Council ended, France had 4536 seminarians. After the outbreak of the 68 Revolution it was not more than 1297. In 2005, the year of the election of Pope Benedict XVI., it was 785. "The decline has stopped , yet so long as there is a spirit in the parish communities unfavorable to vocations with little benevolence for the priesthood, it prevents discovery", says Liturgique Pax.
Lowest Number of Seminarians Since the French Revolution
Of the 710 Diocesan seminarians, there are number 65 foreign students, who are studying in France, the majority of these are studying for their home Diocese. In the representation, the 60 seminarians from the Community of St. Martin aren't counted, who are all preparing for the ministry in French Diocese. In sum, the number of 710 seminarians is a snap shot of the current situation and corresponds to the lowest number since the French Revolution. Just to stopping there though only shows half of the truth. Within the French seminary, a fundamental upheaval taking place.
Development of the Priestly Ordination in the Diocese
96 priests were ordained in 2010 (excepting religious orders). Initially the Commission report of the Bishops' Conference also allowed for the traditional Ecclesia Dei communities. A further sign for the normalization and gradual recognition of the communities of Tradition as a secure part of the Church. The next step will be a more explicit naming and not only a silent submissiveness.
In 2011 there were in France 111 Diocesan priests ordained (2010 was 96, 2009 was 89) . This is careful to include the Society of St. Martin's increase of 15 ordinations over the previous year, or an increase of 15.6 percent. In any case, it can't be read as a general trend. In 2011 there were merely 77 Deacons ordained, who are to be ordained priests in the year 2012.
The Soil from Which Vocations Flower is Damaged -- Yet Improvement is in View
Comparing the newly ordained to the retired clergy, will put the scale of a "damaged landscape" (Paix Liturgie) in stark view. There are about 100 newly ordained for the loss of 800 priests in death. The Community of St. Martin is placed under "new communities" of Tradition next. The Community celebrates the Liturgy in the ordinary form of the Roman Rite but in Latin, it uses the Gregorian choral, Thomism and promotes among its seminarians a healthy disposition to the Extraordinary Form of the Mass [Immemorial Rite]. They have experienced an extraordinary blooming. The Society numbers today 60 seminarians in comparison to the 43 of last year and are receiving ever more pastoral assignments from the Bishops. There are often requests for priests from the Diocese, even the "progressive" Diocese. The times of caution, as with the Bishop of Bayeux with a categorical "St. Martin in my Diocese, never!", is past for this Society.
The Little Diocese of Frejus-Toulon and the large Archdiocese of Paris Lead in the Number of Seminarians
Among all French Diocesan Seminaries, two Diocese and a inter-Diocesan seminary stand in the front rank. If one were to give them a rank, then you'd have to give three first places. It involves the seminary of the Diocese of Toulon-Frejus and the Archdiocese of Paris. In both there are more than 70 seminarians preparing themselves. When one considers that Frejus-Toulon, it is one of the smallest Diocese in France and that the Archdiocese of Paris is so many times larger, makes the extraordinary flowering of the Diocese from the south of France clear. It is noticeable that the "sensibility" of the Bishops of both Diocese is very different from most seminarians. The Bishop of Frejus-Toulon is explicitly close to tradition. The number of Parsian seminarians sank under Archbishop Francois Cardinal Marty (1968-1981) to a minimum of 50, experienced under Jean-Marie Cardinal Lustiger (1981-2005) a spike with almost a doubling, which under the reigning Archbishop André Armand Kardinal Vingt-Trois in 2007 back down to 54 and then rose to over 70 seminarians. In the meantime the priest shortage has become appreciable in Paris, while in the surrounding areas it is positively dramatic.
The Communities of Tradition and Their Development
How does the situation look for Traditional communities? It will only consider those societies whose status is comparable to that of Diocesan priests. As with the Diocesan seminaries the Propaedeuticum doesn't get any consideration and only the French are counted in the statistical survey, but not foreign seminarians, who study in France. Initially it is to be established that these two groups will be classified: on the one side the official Ecclesia Dei Communities, which are known to be in union with Rome, on the other side is the Society of St. Pius X, whose present status in the Catholic Church is still not clarified.
The Ecclesia Dei Communities have 91 seminarians in France as of 2011, preparing for the priesthood. Their number is largely stable. It is a considerable number if one considers how slowly the number of parishes and pastoral assignments entrusted to them by the Bishops were offered and thus hindered their development.
The Society numbers 49 French seminarians in 2011. Their portion has held consistently for years at aabout a third of all the seminarians (15) who are in the Society founded by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre.
280 of 710 Seminarians are Connected to Tradition
All together, the communities of Tradition have 140 French seminarians, who are preparing for the priesthood. That includes exactly the number of seminarians, who are connected to Tradition in the Diocesan seminaries preparing to be priests.
In 2011 the traditional societies had ordained 18 priests all together, seven for the Ecclesia Dei Communities and eleven for the Society of St. Pius X. In 2010 there were 16 new priests in total, of which 8 were for the Ecclesia Dei Communities and 8 for the Society of St. Pius.
The communities of Tradition in the strict sense consist of a sixth of all French seminarians. Then if one counts the communities of Tradition with the seminarians connected to tradition, then every third seminarian in France is connected to Tradition.
The total number of Traditionally connected seminarians demonstrate a double positive trend. They show indeed a slow but steady rate of growth up (2005: 120, 2007:130, 2009: 140, 2010 yet 144) The tempo corresponds to their increasingly unrestricted use in the Diocese. What the Community of St. Martin has already itself experienced , have the other societies yet to experience. They will be ignored by the Diocesan Bishops and they are refused entrance in Parishes. Although in these Communities of young ordained and educated priests are ready for pastoral care, they don't get into action. This continuous ostracism in turn brakes their own growth. The more the Tradition connected priests are assigned to parishes, the more priestly vocations they are going to get, said Paix Liturgique about the publication of the statistics.
France -- Germany: Same Repurcussions, Same Reasons
In comparison to facts, that a third of the Seminarians in the westerly neighbors who are bound to tradition know, and who also prepare for the celebration of the Old Rite of the Catholic Church, the situation is almost like a wasteland. The reason, which impedes the development of Tradition in France, is just as valid, only much stronger in the German Lands. The Society of St. Peter, an Ecclesia Dei Community and thus a officially traditional within the Church, is followed by young, faithful and well educated priests, who are not accepted by the Bishops either in Germany, Austria or Switzerland for pastoral service in parishes. The entrusting of Father Peter Ramm of the Society of St. Peter by the Bishop of Chur, Msgr Vitus Huonder, with the responsibility for one of the two personal parishes erected by the Bishop of Chur for the purpose of the Old Rite, is a first step to tear down this wall of ostracism.
Text: Paix Liturgique/Giuseppe Nardi
Bild: Diocese de Frejus-Toulon