In what world is rapidly declining numbers a sign that we should just continue doing exactly what we are doing? Better yet, let’s punish those “conservatives” who seem to be bucking the trend by growing the Church so we can keep doing what we’re doing…but more.

This is our strategy. They may not say it outright but that’s what the Church is currently doing. This is Fail Theater writ large on a global stage.

With the numbers of priests of the top dozen religious orders declining precipitously, we are told that we should double down on what we’re doing. Some may call that insanity. Catholics call it synodality.

Gloria TV: published charts showing the number of priests and members of the top dozen religious orders since the 1960s.

The Jesuits were the first order of the top dozen to have lost more than half of their members from their high point in 1966 (1966: 36,038; 2011: 17,908 members). They are currently at 14,195 members, down 61% from the all time high. There is no change in the trends since Francis, a Jesuit, became Pope.

Regarding the number of their members, two orders reached that sad milestone in 2016: the Franciscans (now down 55%) and the Oblates of Mary Immaculate (now down 54%); and two in 2022: Redemptorists (down 51%) and Vincentians/Lazarists (down 52%).

In terms of priests, only four orders have lost more than half of their priests: the Benedictines are down 54% (early 1970s: 7,058; 2019: 3,420) and the Oblates of Mary Immaculate are down 52% (1967: 5,441; 2021: 2,643).

In 2022 the Jesuits were down 50% (from 21,025 in 1969 to 10,432 priests), now down 51%. This year the Franciscans were added to the list, down 51% (1967: 16,528; 2022: 8,140 priests).

In terms of members, only of the top dozen orders, the Divine Word Missionaries, hit their high mark in terms of members in recent years (2009:6,131 members).

In terms of priests, two orders hit their highest mark in 2016: the Divine Word Missionaries with 4,231 priests and the Discalced Carmelites with 2,937 priests. The Discalced Carmelites had the best year of the top 12, increasing their number of priests by 4.

Me again: In years past, Jesuits inspired men to become Jesuits by being brave and for allowing themselves to be martyrs for the faith. I don’t see a great deal of bravery from today’s Jesuits, outside of a few heroic examples including my friend Fr. Robert McTeigue, S.J.. He may become a martyr yet but I think it’ll be the Jesuits that kill him. (Just a joke. I don’t want to give them any ideas.)

For some reason, the Jesuits, along with many other orders, think it’s brave to preach worldliness to the Church. In years past, the great missionaries brought the Church to the world, now they do the opposite.

The world is crying out for saints right now. The world is looking for courage. All of this will turn around but it will take a great sacrifice once again from Catholics. It may be too late for many of these orders but the Church will rise again.