France: Decreases in the Number of Ordinations

August 09, 2022
A single priest ordained for the diocese of Chartres in 2022

In Le Figaro on June 28, 2022, Jean-Marie Guénois noted that: “the Church of France is ordaining fewer and fewer priests.”

The religious journalist provides quantified proof of this decades-long constant decline: “In France, the priestly ordinations of diocesan priests continue inexorably to drop.”

“The 2022 figures for French ordinations, published Monday [June 27] by the episcopate, confirm this: 122 priests will be ordained this year, including 77 diocesan priests and 45 from religious congregations. There were 130 in 2021 and 126 in 2020.

And he adds: “We are observing a slow erosion for the religious and a relative stability for certain orders. But the decline is certain for diocesan priests. 60% of French dioceses will not have ordinations this year. For the years 2012-2022, the annual average of ordinations of diocesan priests in France was 82 priests.”

“The previous ten years, there were 107 priestly ordinations. That is a fall of 23%, between these two decades. The previous ten year, between 1992 and 2002, the annual average of ordinations of diocesan priests was 125. In thirty years, we have therefore gone from an annual average of 125 new diocesan priests to 82.”

Jean-Marie Guénois points out: “Even the Italian Church has seen its priestly vocations drop by 28% over the last decade.” And he notes: “One certainty, this indisputable phenomenon which is being established year after year: the more traditional seminaries are more attractive.”

“Thus, the diocese of Toulon, which was forced by the Vatican to postpone the six priestly ordinations, this year would have been with the diocese of Paris – which is an exception with nine ordinations – the second in France. Far ahead of Lyon, Bordeaux, and Versailles, with 3 ordinations each.”

“As much as the diocese of Bayonne where 3 ordinations will be celebrated. And far from Vannes where 5 ordinations will take place! Curiously, the bishops of these two dioceses [Toulon and Vannes] are considered to be classical...” – But “classical” does not necessarily mean “traditional.”