At a retreat for priests at Ars, 'The joy of the priest, consecrated for the salvation of the world', Cardinal Schönborn, Archbishop of Vienna answered the questions of journalists regarding priestly identity and the crisis of vocations. Text is translated (rough-and-readily) by me from Famille Chretienne.
Q: What are the causes of the vocations crisis?
My conviction is that vocations do exist—for female religious, priests, men and women—and that they are numerous. But often, they get nowhere because of the climate of indecision in our society. Who gets married nowadays, except the most fanatical Catholics? This indecision plays an important role for the lack, not of vocations, but of fulfilled vocations.
In many families, there is no joy that a son might be a priest or a daughter a nun. So, people are called, but who hears?
We also feel the effects of the crisis [of vocations] in recent decades. The vagueness of the formation and the identity of the priest have meant that many have drawn back. Meanwhile, during these last thirty years, in Europe or in America, there has been a widespread phenomenon: young people are moving towards the faith of the Church: a few seminaries and new communities are full of vocations.
Some colleagues—a bit liberal [un peu soixante-huitardes]—conclude that "These young people seek security, they are cautious, they dare not confront the world, etc.. " without seeing that it was their own secularized way of life, their flat and purely horizontal theology which had no attraction for youth! That is why I propose that in our chapters-general, our diocesan meetings, we begin to ask ourselves: "Where are vocations going to come from? Why?" Be honest enough to look closely. The answer will be easy, but we must dare to confront the reality.