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If France Stays Catholic, It Will Be Traditionalist

My apologies to you readers for my being slow to approve comments today. I’m battling a debilitating sinus infection, which has had me in bed for most of the past couple of days. Doc assures me that the doubleplus strong antibiotics will kick in by tomorrow. If they don’t, I’m going to request a therapeutic decapitation.

Here’s a fascinating analysis from Centurio, a Catholic traditionalist blog, examining the decline of the mainstream Catholic priesthood in France relative to the priesthood of traditionalist Catholic clerical orders. According to official figures, the number of ordinary Catholic priests will fall off a cliff, going from 14,000 at the present day to about 600 in 2038. That’s how fast current priests are retiring or dying — and they are not being replaced.

Today, in 2014, only two percent of active Catholic priests in France are traditionalists — barely a blip. But if they sustain their present rate of ordinations, and the non-traditionalist priesthood continues its present rate of decline, in the year 2038, more than half the Catholic priests in France will be traditionalists. 

That’s 24 years from now, as far into the future from us as 1990 is in the past.

The bad news — catastrophic news, really — is that France will go from having nearly 15,000 active Catholic priests today to having just over 1,000, all within 25 years.

If Catholicism is going to survive in France, it will be because of the Traditionalists. As Centurio puts it:

So in conclusion, if the Roman Catholic faith will be saved from secularism in France, it will be the achievement of the traditional groups of priests celebrating the Traditional Mass such as FSSPX, FSSP and ICRSS.

Archbishop Lefevre’s vindication, seems like.

UPDATE: To clarify, this analysis does not claim, or at least shouldn’t be read as claiming, that Trads are booming, and all will be will for Catholicism in France. It tracks the complete collapse of French Catholicism, which is a catastrophe. This is not a cause for Traddy triumphalism. To me, as a non-Catholic, the interesting question it raises is about the future of Catholicism in France. If by 2050, more than half of the tiny remnant of Catholic priests left in France are traditionalists, what will Catholicism in France in the year 2100 look like?



about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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