Stop into almost any Catholic church for Mass on a weekend and you'll immediately see that these aren't your grandfather's priests -- in fact, they are your grandfathers or great-grandfathers, at least in age.
The new pope faces a human resources crisis unique in the history of the papacy: the lack of priests threatens the very existence of the church.
In the Diocese of Pittsburgh within 10 years, two-thirds of the current parishes will likely not have priests to serve them. The situation is so bad now that priests are being called out of retirement to meet Sunday Mass obligations. Perhaps mergers and technology can address the Sunday Mass requirements, but who will baptize us? Marry us? Bury us? Let alone provide personal counsel and hear confessions? Without shepherds, the flock disperses.
The solution is simple: Allow for women priests and allow for married priests. There is not now nor was there ever a valid theological reason that only celibate males have been allowed into the priesthood. The Holy Spirit has been calling for the church to change -- the diminishing number of vocations is evidence of this. The church has not listened -- even going so far to maintain the status quo by shielding pedophile priests.
While the church has resisted the will of the Spirit it will be powerless against the harsh truth of arithmetic. The numbers don't lie: change or die.
PATRICK M. CONNELL