Among the many topics addressed by the Statement of Conclusions was the condition of the priesthood in Australia. The document refers to a "special concern" bishops should have for promoting vocations to the priesthood, while clarifying and affirming an authentic view of priestly identity. In this regard, the Statement added, "It is fundamental that correct intellectual, ascetical and doctrinal formation, as well as dutiful and inspired discipline, be assured in seminaries."
During his participation in a recent edition of the ABC Radio National program, The Religion Report, Melbourne's Archbishop George Pell reaffirmed this concern: "Within the Catholic community, what is vitally important is to reinforce the conviction that the ministerial priesthood is absolutely necessary to Catholicism." In an earlier profile article in The Age, the Archbishop had described planning for priestless parishes as "self-fulfilling" and "defeatist thinking."
That such an approach would find no place in Melbourne was evident in the appointment of a young priest, Fr Paul Stuart, as the new Vocations Director for the archdiocese. Fr Stuart's positive article on page 3 offers suggestions on how a larger number of suitable young men might be prompted to follow their vocation to the priesthood.
This picture is reinforced by an encouraging report from the Archdiocese of Denver in the United States (page 7) where the inspiring leadership of Archbishop Charles Chaput has seen an impressive upsurge in priestly vocations and the imminent launch of a new seminary to accommodate them.
Denver's formula for success deserves to be emulated more widely.
Michael Gilchrist: Editor (email - firstname.lastname@example.org)