PAPAL PRESS CONFERENCE EN ROUTE TO ROME FROM ARMENIA

PAPAL PRESS CONFERENCE EN ROUTE TO ROME FROM ARMENIA

Here is a note from Vatican Radio about Pope Francis’ inflight press conference last night on the return trip to Rome from Armenia. A complete transcript of the conference is due in coming days:

Pope Francis spoke on the Armenian genocide, the relation of the Church to homosexuals, and Britain’s vote last week to leave the European Union, as well as a host of other topics in a wide-ranging press conference on his flight back to Rome following his Apostolic Voyage to Armenia. (photo: news.va)

Francis - press conference

Sunday’s in-flight press conference began with questions about the Apostolic Voyage to Armenia that Pope Francis had just concluded. Asked about his message for Armenia for the future, the Holy Father spoke about his hopes and prayers for justice and peace, and his encouragement that leaders are working to that end. In particular, he talked of the work of reconciliation with Turkey and with Azerbaijan. The Pope will be travelling to Azerbaijani later this year.

Pope Francis also spoke about his use of the word ‘genocide,’ acknowledging the legal import of the expression, but explaining that this was the term commonly in use in Argentina for the massacre of Armenians during the first World War.

During the press conference, Pope Francis also addressed a number of religious and ecumenical issues. Speaking about the controversy that arose from remarks by the Prefect of the Pontifical Household, Archbishop Georg Ganswein, who in a speech earlier this month had spoken of a shared “Petrine ministry,” Pope Francis insisted there was only one Pope, while praising the pope emeritus as a “great man of God.”

About the Pan-Orthodox Council, which concluded Sunday in Crete, the Pope said, “A step was made forward . . . I think the result was positive.” In response to a question about upcoming commemorations of the 500th anniversary of the Protestant “Reformation,” Pope Francis said, “I think perhaps this is also the right moment for us not only to remember the wounds on both sides, but also to recognize the gifts of the Reformation.” He also had words of praise for Martin Luther. The Pope praying and working together are important for fostering unity.

Pope Francis also answered a question about women deacons, and his decision to form a commission to study the issue. He said he was surprised and annoyed to hear that his remarks were interpreted to mean that the Church had opened the door to deaconesses. “This is not telling the truth of things,” he said. But, he continued, “women’s thought is important,” because they approach questions differently from men. “One cannot make a good decision without listening to women.

Reporters also questioned the Pope about recent events, including the recent “Brexit” vote in Britain. He said he had not had time to study the reasons for the British vote to leave the European Union, but noted that the vote showed “divisions,” which could also be seen in other countries. “Fraternity is better, and bridges are better than walls,” he said, but he acknowledged that there are “different ways of unity.” Creativity and fruitfulness are two key words for the European Union as it faces new challenges.

The secular press, meanwhile, latched onto remarks Pope Francis made concerning the Church’s relationship to homosexuals. Insisting once again that homosexuals must not be discriminated against, the Pope said that the Church should apologize to homosexuals and ask forgiveness for offending them – but he added, the Church should also ask forgiveness of any groups of persons who had been hurt by Christians who do not live up to the Gospel. There will always be good and bad Christians in the Church, he said, citing Christ’s parable of the wheat and the weeds. “All of us are saints, because all of us have the Holy Spirit. But we are all sinners, [and] I [am] the first.”

Finally, answering a question from Father Federico Lombardi, SJ, the Director of the Holy See Press Office, Pope Francis reflected on his visit to the Memorial at Tzitzernakaberd, and his upcoming journey to Poland, which will include a visit to Auschwitz. The Pope said that in such places, he likes to reflect silently, “alone,” praying that the Lord might grant him “the grace of crying.”

At the conclusion of the press conference, Pope Francis thanked the reporters for their hard work and goodness.

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POPE FRANCIS, THE ARMENIANS AND TURKEY – POPE UNDERSCORES DIVINE MERCY IN MASS FOR ARMENIANS – POPE FRANCIS’ MESSAGE TO ARMENIANS

POPE FRANCIS, THE ARMENIANS AND TURKEY

Following are some of the headlines you may have seen after Pope Francis’ homily at Mass Sunday for the faithful of the Armenian Rite in commemoration of the centenary of the “Medz Yeghern” (the “Great Crime”) – the massacre of Armenians by the Ottoman government in what is now Turkey:

AP: Pope sparks Turkish ire by referring to Armenian ‘genocide’ on centenary of slaughter  –  Deutsche Welle: Pope’s move could strain diplomatic ties with Turkey  –  Financial Times: Pope Francis calls Armenian slaughter genocide  –  BBC: Turkey anger at Pope Francis Armenian ‘genocide’ claim  –  Reuters: Turkey recalls Vatican ambassador after pope’s genocide comments

What has been variously termed the Armenian Massacres, Armenian Martyrdom, Armenian Holocaust and “Medz Yeghern” (Armenian for the “Great Crime”) has been described as the Ottoman government’s systematic extermination of its minority Armenian subjects inside their historic homeland which lies within the territory constituting the present-day Republic of Turkey.

Following World War I, the extensive territories and numerous peoples that had previously comprised the Ottoman Empire were divided into several states. With the 1919-1922 Turkish War of Independence, the modern day Republic of Turkey, the successor state to the Ottoman Empire, was established.

Turkey today denies that what happened to Armenians can be called “genocide” and says that the number cited – 1 to 1.5 million Armenians killed – is exaggerated.

Here, in part, is what Pope Francis said on Divine Mercy Sunday, April 12, 2015 in his Message to the Armenian people, quoting St. John Paul (full Message below):

In the past century our human family has lived through three massive and unprecedented tragedies. The first, which is widely considered “the first genocide of the twentieth century” (JOHN PAUL II and KAREKIN II, Common Declaration , Etchmiadzin, 27 September 2001), struck your own Armenian people, the first Christian nation, as well as Catholic and Orthodox Syrians, Assyrians, Chaldeans and Greeks. Bishops and priests, religious, women and men, the elderly and even defenceless children and the infirm were murdered. The remaining two were perpetrated by Nazism and Stalinism. And more recently there have been other mass killings, like those in Cambodia, Rwanda, Burundi and Bosnia. It seems that humanity is incapable of putting a halt to the shedding of innocent blood. It seems that the enthusiasm generated at the end of the Second World War has dissipated and is now disappearing. It seems that the human family has refused to learn from its mistakes caused by the law of terror, so that today too there are those who attempt to eliminate others with the help of a few and with the complicit silence of others who simply stand by. We have not yet learned that “war is madness”, “senseless slaughter” (cf. Homily in Redipuglia , 13 September 2014).

And here is the original paragraph from the Common Declaration of His Holiness John Paul II and His Holiness Karekin II at Holy Etchmiadzin (Republic of Armenia – September 27, 2001) in which the word ‘genocide’ was used:

The most valuable treasure that one generation could bequeath to the next was fidelity to the Gospel, so that, with the grace of the Holy Spirit, the young would become as resolute as their ancestors in bearing witness to the Truth. The extermination of a million and a half Armenian Christians, in what is generally referred to as the first genocide of the twentieth century, and the subsequent annihilation of thousands under the former totalitarian regime are tragedies that still live in the memory of the present-day generation. These innocents who were butchered in vain are not canonized, but many among them were certainly confessors and martyrs for the name of Christ. We pray for the repose of their souls, and urge the faithful never to lose sight of the meaning of their sacrifice.

Click here to read the full text of the Common Declaration by John Paul II and Karekin II:http://w2.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/speeches/2001/september/documents/hf_jp-ii_spe_20010927_decl-jp-ii-karekin-ii.html

Pope Francis did, as you see, use the word “genocide” but not all the media reports made it clear that he was quoting Pope John Paul II and Catholicos Karekin II.

Following are the Vatican Radio reports of the Holy Father’s homily on Divine Mercy Sunday and his Message to the Armenian faithful who came to Rome for Sunday’s Mass, including the president of Armenia.

POPE UNDERSCORES DIVINE MERCY IN MASS FOR ARMENIANS

(Vatican Radio) On Divine Mercy Sunday, the Second Sunday of Easter, Pope Francis celebrated Solemn Mass for the Centenary of the Armenian Martyrdom. During the Liturgy, the Holy Father proclaimed the great Armenian Saint Gregory of Narek a Doctor of the Church. Pope Francis processed into the basilica flanked by the Catholicos Karekin II and Catholicos Aram I of the Armenian Apostolic Church, with the Patriarch Catholicos Nerses Bedros XIX a few paces ahead. Patriarch Nerses concelebrated Mass with the Holy Father. (photos: news.va)

POPE FRANCIS - ARMENIA HOMILY

Following is the Pope’s homily:

Saint John, who was in the Upper Room with the other disciples on the evening of the first day after the Sabbath, tells us that Jesus came and stood among them, and said, “Peace be with you!” and he showed them his hands and his side (Jn 20:19-20); he showed them his wounds.  And in this way they realized that it was not an apparition: it was truly him, the Lord, and they were filled with joy.

On the eighth day Jesus came once again into the Upper Room and showed his wounds to Thomas, so that he could touch them as he had wished to, in order to believe and thus become himself a witness to the Resurrection.

To us also, on this Sunday which Saint John Paul II wished to dedicate to Divine Mercy, the Lord shows us, through the Gospel, his wounds.  They are wounds of mercy.  It is true: the wounds of Jesus are wounds of mercy.

Jesus invites us to behold these wounds, to touch them as Thomas did, to heal our lack of belief.  Above all, he invites us to enter into the mystery of these wounds, which is the mystery of his merciful love.

Through these wounds, as in a light-filled opening, we can see the entire mystery of Christ and of God: his Passion, his earthly life – filled with compassion for the weak and the sick – his incarnation in the womb of Mary.  And we can retrace the whole history of salvation: the prophecies – especially about the Servant of the Lord, the Psalms, the Law and the Covenant; to the liberation from Egypt, to the first Passover and to the blood of the slaughtered lambs; and again from the Patriarchs to Abraham, and then all the way back to Abel, whose blood cried out from the earth.  All of this we can see in the wounds of Jesus, crucified and risen; with Mary, in her Magnificat, we can perceive that, “His mercy extends from generation to generation” (cf. Lk 1:50).

Faced with the tragic events of human history we can feel crushed at times, asking ourselves, “Why?”  Humanity’s evil can appear in the world like an abyss, a great void: empty of love, empty of goodness, empty of life.  And so we ask: how can we fill this abyss?  For us it is impossible; only God can fill this emptiness that evil brings to our hearts and to human history.  It is Jesus, God made man, who died on the Cross and who fills the abyss of sin with the depth of his mercy.

Saint Bernard, in one of his commentaries on the Canticle of Canticles (Sermon 61, 3-5: Opera Omnia, 2, 150-151), reflects precisely on the mystery of the Lord’s wounds, using forceful and even bold expressions which we do well to repeat today.  He says that “through these sacred wounds we can see the secret of [Christ’s] heart, the great mystery of love, the sincerity of his mercy with which he visited us from on high”.

Brothers and sisters, behold the way which God has opened for us to finally go out from our slavery to sin and death, and thus enter into the land of life and peace.  Jesus, crucified and risen, is the way and his wounds are especially full of mercy.

The saints teach us that the world is changed beginning with the conversion of one’s own heart, and that this happens through the mercy of God.  And so, whether faced with my own sins or the great tragedies of the world, “my conscience would be distressed, but it would not be in turmoil, for I would recall the wounds of the Lord: ‘he was wounded for our iniquities’ (Is 53:5). What sin is there so deadly that it cannot be pardoned by the death of Christ?” (ibid.).

Keeping our gaze on the wounds of the Risen Jesus, we can sing with the Church: “His love endures forever” (Ps 117:2); eternal is his mercy.  And with these words impressed on our hearts, let us go forth along the paths of history, led by the hand of our Lord and Saviour, our life and our hope.

POPE FRANCIS’ MESSAGE TO ARMENIANS

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis delivered a Message to all Armenians on Sunday, presenting President Serž Azati Sargsyan of Armenia, Catholicos Karekin II, Catholicos Aram I, and Patriarch Nerses Bedros XIX, with copies at the end of Mass marking the centenary of the Medz Yeghern in which more than 1 million Armenians under Ottoman rule were driven from their homes, dispossessed and killed. Below, please find the full text of the Message in its official English translation.

POPE FRANCIS - ARMENIA MESSAGE

Dear Armenian Brothers and Sisters,

A century has passed since that horrific massacre which was a true martyrdom of your people, in which many innocent people died as confessors and martyrs for the name of Christ (cf. John Paul II and Karekin II, Common Declaration, Etchmiadzin, 27 September 2001).  Even today, there is not an Armenian family untouched by the loss of loved ones due to that tragedy: it truly was “Metz Yeghern”, the “Great Evil”, as it is known by Armenians.  On this anniversary, I feel a great closeness to your people and I wish to unite myself spiritually to the prayers which rise up from your hearts, your families and your communities.

Today is a propitious occasion for us to pray together, as we proclaim Saint Gregory of Narek a Doctor of the Church.  I wish to express my deep gratitude for the presence here today of His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia, and His Beatitude Nerses Bedros XIX, Patriarch of Cilicia of Armenian Catholics.

Saint Gregory of Narek, a monk of the tenth century, knew how to express the sentiments of your people more than anyone.  He gave voice to the cry, which became a prayer, of a sinful and sorrowful humanity, oppressed by the anguish of its powerlessness, but illuminated by the splendour of God’s love and open to the hope of his salvific intervention, which is capable of transforming all things.  “Through his strength I wait with certain expectation believing with unwavering hope that… I shall be saved by the Lord’s mighty hand and… that I will see the Lord himself in his mercy and compassion and receive the legacy of heaven” (Saint Gregory of Narek, Book of Lamentations, XII).

Your Christian identity is indeed ancient, dating from the year 301, when Saint Gregory the Illuminator guided Armenia to conversion and baptism.  You were the first among nations in the course of the centuries to embrace the Gospel of Christ.  That spiritual event indelibly marked the Armenian people, as well as its culture and history, in which martyrdom holds a preeminent place, as attested to symbolically by the sacrificial witness of Saint Vardan and his companions in the fifth century.

Your people, illuminated by Christ’s light and by his grace, have overcome many trials and sufferings, animated by the hope which comes from the Cross (cf. Rom 8:31-39).  As Saint John Paul II said to you, “Your history of suffering and martyrdom is a precious pearl, of which the universal Church is proud.  Faith in Christ, man’s Redeemer, infused you with an admirable courage on your path, so often like that of the Cross, on which you have advanced with determination, intent on preserving your identity as a people and as believers” (Homily, 21 November 1987).

This faith also accompanied and sustained your people during the tragic experience one hundred years ago “in what is generally referred to as the first genocide of the twentieth century” (John Paul II and Karekin II, Common Declaration, Etchmiadzin, 27 September 2001).  Pope Benedict XV, who condemned the First World War as a “senseless slaughter” (AAS, IX [1917], 429), did everything in his power until the very end to stop it, continuing the efforts at mediation already begun by Pope Leo XIII when confronted with the “deadly events” of 1894-96.  For this reason, Pope Benedict XV wrote to Sultan Mehmed V, pleading that the many innocents be saved (cf. Letter of 10 September 1915) and, in the Secret Consistory of 6 December 1915, he declared with great dismay, “Miserrima Armenorum gens ad interitum prope ducitur” (AAS, VII [1915], 510).

It is the responsibility not only of the Armenian people and the universal Church to recall all that has taken place, but of the entire human family, so that the warnings from this tragedy will protect us from falling into a similar horror, which offends against God and human dignity.  Today too, in fact, these conflicts at times degenerate into unjustifiable violence, stirred up by exploiting ethnic and religious differences.  All who are Heads of State and of International Organizations are called to oppose such crimes with a firm sense of duty, without ceding to ambiguity or compromise.

May this sorrowful anniversary become for all an occasion of humble and sincere reflection, and may every heart be open to forgiveness, which is the source of peace and renewed hope.  Saint Gregory of Narek, an extraordinary interpreter of the human soul, offers words which are prophetic for us: “I willingly blame myself with myriad accounts of all the incurable sins, from our first forefather through the end of his generations in all eternity, I charge myself with all these voluntarily” (Book of Lamentations, LXXII).  How striking is his sense of universal solidarity!  How small we feel before the greatness of his invocations: “Remember, [Lord,]… those of the human race who are our enemies as well, and for their benefit accord them pardon and mercy… Do not destroy those who persecute me, but reform them, root out the vile ways of this world, and plant the good in me and them” (ibid., LXXXIII).

May God grant that the people of Armenia and Turkey take up again the path of reconciliation, and may peace also spring forth in Nagorno Karabakh.  Despite conflicts and tensions, Armenians and Turks have lived long periods of peaceful coexistence in the past and, even in the midst of violence, they have experienced times of solidarity and mutual help.  Only in this way will new generations open themselves to a better future and will the sacrifice of so many become seeds of justice and peace.

For us Christians, may this be above all a time of deep prayer.  Through the redemptive power of Christ’s sacrifice, may the blood which has been shed bring about the miracle of the full unity of his disciples.  In particular, may it strengthen the bonds of fraternal friendship which already unite the Catholic Church and the Armenian Apostolic Church.  The witness of many defenceless brothers and sisters who sacrificed their lives for the faith unites the diverse confessions:  it is the ecumenism of blood, which led Saint John Paul II to celebrate all the martyrs of the twentieth century together during the Jubilee of 2000.

Our celebration today also is situated in this spiritual and ecclesial context.  Representatives of our two Churches are participating in this event to which many of our faithful throughout the world are united spiritually, in a sign which reflects on earth the perfect communion that exists between the blessed souls in heaven.  With brotherly affection, I assure you of my closeness on the occasion of the canonization ceremony of the martyrs of the Armenian Apostolic Church, to be held this coming 23 April in the Cathedral of Etchmiadzin, and on the occasion of the commemorations to be held in Antelias in July.

I entrust these intentions to the Mother of God, in the words of Saint Gregory of Narek:

“O Most Pure of Virgins, first among the blessed,

“Mother of the unshakeable edifice of the Church,

“Mother of the immaculate Word of God,

“Taking refuge beneath your boundless wings which grant us the protection of your intercession,

“We lift up our hands to you, and with unquestioned hope we believe that we are saved”.

(Panegyric of the Theotokos)

FRANCIS ADDRESSES SYNOD OF ARMENIAN CATHOLIC CHURCH – USCCB REPORTS INCREASE IN PRIESTLY ORDINATIONS

Pope Francis’ 18 million followers in 9 languages on Twitter saw this tweet today: Lord, give us the gift of tears, the ability to cry for our sins and so receive your forgiveness.

The Holy Father today welcomed President Andrej Kiska of the Slovak Republic. The audience took place before the 25th anniversary of the restoration of diplomatic relations between the Holy See and the then Czech and Slovak Federative Republic on April 19, 1990 following St. John Paul II’s visit to the country. (photo: news.va)

POPE FRANCIS - SLOVAKIA

FRANCIS ADDRESSES SYNOD OF ARMENIAN CATHOLIC CHURCH

On April 12, Divine Mercy Sunday, Pope Francis will preside at Solemn Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica for the faithful of the Armenian Rite, in commemoration of the centenary of the “Medz Yeghern” (the “Great Crime”) – the massacre of Armenians by the Ottoman government in what is now Turkey.

During Mass, the Holy Father will inscribe the great Armenian Saint Gregory of Narek among the Doctors of the Universal Church.

Ahead of this commemoration, Pope Francis on Thursday met with 20 bishops of the Patriarchal Synod of the Armenian Catholic Church, who will be present for Sunday’s Mass. In prepared remarks, the Pope prayed that Divine Mercy “might help us all, in love for truth and justice, to heal every wound and to hasten concrete gestures of reconciliation and peace among the Nations that have not yet reached a consensus on the reading of such sorrowful events.”

POPE FRANCIS - ARMENIAN PATRIARCh

In his address to the bishops, the Holy Father remarked that on Sunday they will “raise a prayer of Christian intercession for the sons and daughters of your beloved people, who were made victims a hundred years ago.”

Pope Francis greeted not only the many Armenians who travelled to Rome with their bishops, but also the many Armenians of the diaspora throughout the world,, “such as the United States, Latin America, Europe, Russia, Ukraine, up to the Motherland.”

He recalled Armenians in those places that, during the Medz Yeghern were places of safety for Armenian Christians, but are now places where Christianity itself is threatened: “I think with particular sadness of those areas, such as that of Aleppo, that a hundred years ago were a safe haven for the few survivors. In such regions the stability of Christians, not only Armenians, has latterly been placed in danger.”

The Holy Father noted the long history of Christianity in Armenia, and its rich spiritual and cultural heritage going back to 301, when Armenia became the first Christian nation. Pope Francis called on the Bishops to “always cultivate a feeling of gratitude to the Lord” for the ability to keep the Faith even in the most difficult times. He reminded them that, if the Armenian people have, in a certain sense, shared in the Passion of the Lord, their suffering nonetheless contains the seeds of His Resurrection.

Concluding his remarks, Pope Francis also paid tribute to those who worked to relieve the suffering of the Armenian people during the “Great Crime,” notably Pope Benedict XV, the Pope at the time, who intervened with the Ottoman rulers to try to halt the massacres.

In closing, Pope Francis entrusted the ecumenical dialogue between the Armenian Catholic Church and the Armenian Apostolic Church to Saint Gregory of Narek, while recognizing that the shared sufferings of one hundred years ago have already produced a certain “ecumenism of blood.”

The ecumenical aspect of Sunday’s Liturgy was also highlighted by the Catholicos Patriarch of Cilicia, Nerses Bedros XIX. He noted that, in addition to the Armenian Catholic Bishops and faithful, representatives of the Armenian Apostolic Church – including Catholicos Karekin II of Etchmiadzin and Catholicos Aram I of Antelias – will also be present for the Liturgy, along with the president of the Republic of Armenia. (sources: VIS, Vatican Radio)

USCCB REPORTS INCREASE IN PRIESTLY ORDINATIONS

An April 7 post on the website of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) notes that the ordination class of 2015 shows an increase in the number of ordained, and says this “reflects positive impact of support from families, Catholic schools, and parish priests.” http://www.usccb.org/news/2015/15-055.cfm

The reports states that the 2015 class of men ordained to the priesthood reports that they were, on average, about 17 when they first considered a vocation to the priesthood and encouraged to consider a vocation by an average of four people. Seven in 10 (71 percent) say they were encouraged by a parish priest, as well as friends (46 percent), parishioners (45 percent), and mothers (40 percent). On average, they lived in the diocese or eparchy for which they will be ordained for 15 years before entering seminary. Religious ordinands knew the members of their religious institute an average of six years before entering.

The total number of potential ordinands for the class of 2015, 595, is up from from 477 in 2014 and 497 in 2013.

The Georgetown University-based Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) gathered the date for “The Class of 2015: Survey of Ordinands to the Priesthood.” CARA collects the data annually for the U.S. bishops’ Secretariat for Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations. Approximately 69 percent of the 595 potential ordinands reported to CARA. These 411 respondents include 317 ordinands to the diocesan priesthood, from 120 different dioceses and archdioceses, and 94 ordinands to the religious priesthood.

Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Raleigh, North Carolina, chair of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations, found that the data gave reason for hope but also provide areas for further growth.

“It is encouraging to see the slight increase in the number of ordinations this year in the United States,” Bishop Burbidge said. “When asked about the positive influences they encountered while discerning the call, those to be ordained responded that the support from their family, parish priest, and Catholic schools ranked very high.”

Father W. Shawn McKnight, executive director of the Secretariat, cited educational debt as a growing concern. “Over 26 percent of those ordained carried educational debt at the time they entered the seminary, averaging a little over $22,500 in educational debt at entrance to the seminary. Considering the high percentage of the men ordained already having earned an undergraduate degree, it will be important to find ways to assist in debt reduction in the future.”

Among the survey’s major findings: •  The average age for the Class of 2015 is 34. The median age (midpoint of the distribution) is 31. Eight in 10 respondents are between 25 and 39. This distribution is slightly younger than in 2014, but follows the pattern in recent years of average age at ordination in the mid-thirties.

  •  Two-thirds (69 percent) report their primary race or ethnicity as Caucasian/European American/white. Compared to the adult Catholic population of the United States, they are more likely to be of Asian or Pacific Islander background (10 percent of responding ordinands), but less likely to be Hispanic/Latino (14 percent of responding ordinands). Compared to diocesan ordinands, religious ordinands are less likely to report their race or ethnicity as Caucasian/European American/white.
  •  One-quarter (25 percent) were born outside the United States, with the largest numbers coming from Colombia, Mexico, the Philippines, Nigeria, Poland and Vietnam. On average, respondents born in another country have lived in the United States for 12 years. Between 20 and 30 percent of ordinands to diocesan priesthood for each of the last ten years were born outside of the United States.
  •  Most ordinands have been Catholic since infancy, although 7 percent became Catholic later in life. Eighty-four percent report that both of their parents are Catholic and more than a third (37 percent) have a relative who is a priest or a religious.
  •  More than half completed college (60 percent) before entering the seminary. One in seven (15 percent) entered the seminary with a graduate degree. One in three (34 percent) report entering the seminary while in college. The most common fields of study for ordinands before entering the seminary are theology or philosophy (20 percent), liberal arts (19 percent), and science (13 percent).
  •  Half of responding ordinands (51 percent) attended a Catholic elementary school, which is a rate higher than that of all Catholic adults in the United States. In addition, ordinands are somewhat more likely than other U.S. Catholic adults to have attended a Catholic high school and they are much more likely to have attended a Catholic college (45 percent, compared to 7 percent among U.S. Catholic adults
  •  Six in ten ordinands (61 percent) report some type of full-time work experience prior to entering the seminary, most often in education. Four percent of responding ordinands report prior service in the U.S. Armed Forces. About one in six ordinands (16 percent) report that either parent had a military career in the U.S. Armed Forces
  •  Eight in 10 (78 percent) indicate they served as an altar server and about half (51 percent) reporting service as a lector. One in seven (14 percent) participated in a World Youth Day before entering the seminary.
  •  About seven in 10 report regularly praying the rosary (70 percent) and participating in Eucharistic adoration (70 percent) before entering the seminary.
  •  Almost half (48 percent) indicated that they were discouraged from considering the priesthood. On average, two individuals are said to have discouraged them.