It's probably no secret now that the Catholic Church is having a problem or two these days. Amongst the many others, one major problem is retention -- people are leaving the church (or dying) in numbers far surpassing the people coming in. This is especially evident in small rural areas like where I grew up where Parishes are rapidly consolidating due to lack of members and especially priests. For example, the Parish I grew up in has now consolidated with several others and has a scant three priests for about 8 or so churches.
I can't help but think that a major part of the reason so many people are leaving is that the Catholic Church still thinks it's the year 1500 (in so many ways) -- they think that if they say we shouldn't do something, we'll all faithfully obey. Much like those who planned the Iraq invasion, they don't even seem capable of pondering the fact that people might not agree and might instead take a very obvious different course of action (in this case leaving the church instead of shunning their gay friends, for example).
And there's a huge problem recruiting new priests. My old man has a pretty good theory that this is the fault of Catholic schools -- while once they were designed to serve quality education to the poor, they've become daycare centers for rich brats. And this obviously makes a difference in grooming future priests; if you're poor, becoming a priests might look pretty cool (a job for life, respect in the community, etc.), but if you're rich, a dual vow of poverty and chastity doesn't look like a very good option.
But you know what would be a pretty easy solution to getting more priests? How about allowing the other half of the world's residents (the ones without penises) to be ordained?
But it looks like that won't happen any time soon. As Father Roy Bourgeois (who seems to be a much better Catholic than Benedict XVI, but that's another post for another day) recently found out, the ordination of women has been specifically identified as a grave crime.
For those of you not in the now, grave crimes are a big deal in the Catholic Church. For example, they're one of the few reasons for which someone can be excommunicated, one of the biggest punishments the church has (other than that whole eternity in hell thing). You know what else is a grave crime? Sexually molesting children.
I feel compelled to point out that lots of priests have molested children and none that I've heard have been excommunicated, but the one priest that ordained a woman -- excommunicated before the ceremony was over.
Just a crazy guess here, but this might just be a good example of why people aren't super interested in being Catholic these days...