Editor's Note: We are posting the text of the letter at right from Archbishop John C. Nienstedt. It is addressed to Judith Pryor in response to a letter sent to the Archbishop by a group of Catholics asking for dialogue.
FutureChurch suggested that people request dialogue on the subject of married male priests and women deacons as a solution to the shortage of priests. The suggestion was to ask bishops to advocate for those changes during their ad limina visits in Rome.
February 18, 2012
I am in receipt of the letter from you and several others that you delivered to the Chancery.
Indeed, the Church in these United States overall may be facing a clergy shortage, but, thanks be to God, here in the Archdiocese we are not. We have 316 active priests and actively retired priests serving our 206 parishes. In addition, we have 68 seminarians studying for the Archdiocese with some 15 men applying next year.
Our strategic plan was a result of the challenging demographics of Catholics in the Twin Cities. When people move, their parish support goes with them. Merging parishes in the Archdiocese was not a result of a shortage of priests.
Therefore, I see no need to meet with your group to discuss a concern that does not exist in this Archdiocese.
I do assure you all of my prayer and ask for yours in return.
With every good wish, I remainCordially yours in Christ,
The Most Reverend John C. Nienstedt
Archbishop of Saint Paul and Minneapolis
Here is the data, however, on clergy from the Archdiocese's Key Fact Sheet, distributed in June 2009 as the basis for its strategic planning and parish reorganization referred to by the Archbishop.
The estimated number of pastors will decline:
• There are currently 182 priests eligible to be pastor and there will be a total of 163 priests eligible to be pastors in ten years time: a drop of 19 pastors.
• The number of parochial vicars will decline from 44 today to 37 in ten years time.
• Priests doing special ministries, such as hospital and jail chaplains, as well as working in seminaries will decline from 34 today to 27 in ten years time.
If your experience is contrary to the Archbishop's assertions, please let him know. Mail can be sent to 226 Summit Ave., St. Paul, MN 55102.