Catholic nuns and monks decline

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On the back page of its official newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican published on Monday new statistics revealing that between 2005 and 2006 the number “members of the consecrated life” fell by just over 10%.
The number of members, predominantly women, some engaged only in constant prayer, others working as teachers, health workers and missionaries, fell 94,790 to 945,210.
Pope Benedict at the Vatican (2 February 2008)
The membership of the Roman Catholic Church has risen to 1.1bn
Of the total, 753,400 members were women, while 191,810 were men, including 136,171 priests and 532 permanent deacons.
Not really a surprise, although the increase in diocesan priests is encouraging.
The number of men and women belonging to religious orders worldwide has continued to decline but there has been an increase in priests assigned to dioceses, the Vatican said Tuesday.
The total of men and women in religious orders in 2006 stood at 945,210 – 7,230 fewer than the previous year, said a Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Ciro Benedettini. He said an article Monday in the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, had overstated the decrease.
The Vatican’s statistics office said the total number of priests worldwide stood at 405,000, with an increase of 600 diocesan clerics.
I’d be interested in seeing an age distribution of the present population compared with that 10 years ago.
It seems rather amazing that the number would drop 10% in one year, unless there were a change in the methodology of counting, or a change in rules on retirement or something similar.
There certainly has generally been a decline in the numbers of religious every year for the last 40 years. I find it hard to believe though that the decline in one year was actually 10%, and perhaps this news article is inaccurate.
There has been a decline in numbers of religious all the same. However, the future is not dim at all. Conservative religious orders have been growing greatly and in fact there have been many new ones. Conservative here means rooted in the traditional spirituality of their order and keynoted by such things as wearing habits and loyalty to the Pope. The decline has come in liberal religious orders, liberal meaning the opposite of such practices, as well as theological dissent and disobedience to those over them in the Church. Such orders in fact are disappering, the age of their members in many such orders being on the average about retirment age, without no younger people joining.The decline has occurred all the same because conservative orders have been a minority, though because they are growing, they can be expected to become the vast majority in time. So in spite of such statistics, the future has much hope.
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