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Thu Feb 28, 2013, 12:27 PM

Average age of priests is 63..

It used to be 35

Now with Alex Wagner panel is discussing why.. Isn't it a no-brainer?

Religious life (even with all the vows of poverty) always had an appeal to younger people (of the past ) in a way quite similar to the appeal of the military in times of hardship.

People used to live rural lives, and much of their day-to-day lives included religion. People married quite young, and were expected to go out on their own in their teens or early 20s.

For a poor person (male or female) who for whatever reason, decided that they did not want to marry and start a family, the religious life gave them an opportunity to go to school, and provided a life-long envelopment in a society that would always "take care of" them..

Priests/nuns always had a roof over their heads and food to eat.. they always had clothing and personal/medical needs met, and they never had to do manual/dirty/hard labor. They were teachers/moral leaders/ministers.

If they were a person who never intended to marry, and have a family of their own, they had a "family" they tended to spiritually, but did not have to endure the day to day grind of making a marriage work and tending to cranky/disrespectful/willful children. They were spared the necessity of doing a crappy job just to put food on the table.

Until quite recently (in evolutionary terms), most marriages were NOT "love-matches". They were often "arranged" (sometimes loosely-sometimes not so much) by families, and (for the girls) often before they even had a chance to find a "love-match".

It's not surprising to me, that in the past, many young people facing a lifetime of struggle and poverty, perhaps found a "calling" in the religious life.

In my own family there were 3 elderly nuns (Great aunts) who flat out told us kids that they all joined together because they were in their late teens when their father died in a farm accident and their Mother could not afford for them to stay on the farm. They had NO desire to follow in her footsteps, and college was out of the question, since none of them had gone beyond 6th grade, and what they saw in their future was marriage to some farmer and too many kids to care for, so they chose to become nuns.

None of them regretted their choice.

Many young people in recent years have said that they joined the military (even during wartime) because they saw no other option to get educated, get medical care, get a regular paycheck.





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Response to SoCalDem (Original post)

Thu Feb 28, 2013, 12:35 PM

1. The age of the average Roman Catholic sister 74 years old

People are realizing they can have their fun, their lives and religion too.

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Response to SoCalDem (Original post)

Thu Feb 28, 2013, 12:35 PM

2. I'm looking forward to the day the average age is 103! nt

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Response to Walk away (Reply #2)

Thu Feb 28, 2013, 01:39 PM

8. Me too

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Response to SoCalDem (Original post)

Thu Feb 28, 2013, 12:38 PM

3. Many people

 

in the old days were forced to become priest and nuns due to extreme family pressure. Back when you dared not "disrespect" your parents wishes. Still happens to a degree..a friend of mine was pushed into the priesthood by his parents but he finally got the nerve and dropped out of seminary and is now happily married for 20+ years. His mom had 3 other married children and he was the youngest and she wanted him to become a priest in the worst way..

Life of celibacy = yuck.

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Response to fitman (Reply #3)

Thu Feb 28, 2013, 12:41 PM

4. Irish Catholics often prided themselves when they had a priest and a nun in the family

I think the 60's had a HUGE effect on people joining the religious life. People who were young then started thinking for themselves in a big way, and saw that there were ways to live that were different from what their parents/grandparents had lived.

Fallen-away Catholics are everywhere (I quit on my 18th birthday)

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Response to SoCalDem (Original post)

Thu Feb 28, 2013, 12:50 PM

5. Interesting - I think many who would have gone to the church, now go into academia.


There are a lot of parallels. Except for the part about always having to apply for grants. But it you can't get grants on your own, you can always work for someone who can.

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Response to SoCalDem (Original post)

Thu Feb 28, 2013, 12:54 PM

6. In 10 years...

...there won't be any nuns or priests alive.

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Response to SoCalDem (Original post)

Thu Feb 28, 2013, 01:38 PM

7. Completely logical

I had a live-long Catholic friend share with me a similar line of thought one time.

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Response to SoCalDem (Original post)

Thu Feb 28, 2013, 01:45 PM

9. Disagree on a major point...

"manual/dirty/hard labor" was still an element of religious life for a great period of the Church's existence. In addition to "Church duties", there was a lot of owned land that had to be farmed and buildings that had to be cleaned and maintained. And not everyone got to be Abbot/Bishop.

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Response to brooklynite (Reply #9)

Thu Feb 28, 2013, 01:58 PM

12. Going waaaay back, maybe, but for most priests/nuns since the 1920's

there probably was not a lot of hard manual labor involved.. Most cathedrals had willing supplicants who did a LOT of the maintenance, and dioceses often had budgets that allowed for work to be hired out.

I never saw a priest/nun with dirty fingernails

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Response to SoCalDem (Original post)

Thu Feb 28, 2013, 01:48 PM

10. Is there any chance of a married priesthood?

As a non-Catholic, I'm not in the loop on this one.

But it seems to me that they could solve a large chunk of their recruiting issues if they just allowed priests (and nuns) to marry.

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Response to Jeff In Milwaukee (Reply #10)

Thu Feb 28, 2013, 01:54 PM

11. It will probably have to come to this, if they ever hope to emerge from the scandalous

stuff that went on (and probably still goes on).

They need a bigger pool of workforce to draw on.

Limiting it to men who are willing to (at least officially) agree to a life of celibacy is real problem for the modern church.

They need to open the church up to men and women..married or single.

Priests USED to have families, but the church changed the rules because they did not want claims on church property when priests died.

Piety was not the reason..it was money...

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Response to SoCalDem (Reply #11)

Thu Feb 28, 2013, 02:03 PM

13. I remember reading...

that priestly celibacy has a briefer history that one might expect. Just now I read an article where the author states that nearly 1/3 of U.S. priests are married. The author makes a distinction between prients and cleric -- priests can apparently be married and typically hold positions outside the institutional church. Clerics are priests who "staff" a parish.

If you're Catholic you probably already know this, but I find it darned interesting.

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Response to Jeff In Milwaukee (Reply #13)

Thu Feb 28, 2013, 02:06 PM

15. That's true.. When I thinbk of priest, I always see Fr O'Connor in my mind's eye

said mass in golf cleats (on a marble floor) clickety-clack..

straight from mass to the golf course..

and then on with the shades (very dark ones) to the pool to watch the girls (ick)

he always had a book, but I doubt that he was reading it..

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Response to SoCalDem (Original post)

Thu Feb 28, 2013, 02:04 PM

14. Kinda like the average age of a republican, huh.

Yep, there's not too many aged dinosaurs.

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