The Slow Erosion of Vocations in France
The report from the Plenary Assembly of the French Bishops, held in Lourdes in November of 2017, is final: in 2000, France had 976 diocesan seminarians. In 2016, their numbers have decreased by thirty percent, and there are now only 662.
There are 32 seminaries and formation centers in France. Three houses in Brussels and the French Seminary in Rome complete the count, explained Fr. Jean-Luc Garin, superior of the seminary of Lille and president of the National Council of Major Seminaries.
152 of these young men are in their preparatory year, the year of discernment before entering the seminary as an actual seminarian. There are 14 locations specially consecrated to this year of discernment. Not all these young men will necessarily enter the seminary after this period of reflection.
Bishop Jérôme Beau, auxiliary bishop of Paris, brought up a question that risks causing a debate among the bishops: the possibility of reducing the number of seminaries. At present, five seminaries are home to half of France’s seminarians.
What this report from Lourdes by Gauthier Vaillant for La Croix does not mention is the total number of French seminarians attached to Tradition. A study published on Riposte Catholique on August 21, 2017, and relayed by cath.ch shows that in 2017, there are 160 of them preparing to celebrate Mass according to the missal of John XXIII, with an annual increase rate of 2%.