Rorate Caeli

Coincidence or the real Francis effect? The collapse of vocations in Buenos Aires and all Argentina from the 1990's to the present.

A scene from the annual "Mass for Education" celebrated by then-Cardinal Bergoglio in his cathedral in 2010. (Source)

Update: The website of the Organizacion de los Seminarios de la Argentina has comprehensive statistics for major and minor seminarians in the country from 1997 to the present (ESTADÍSTICAS COMPARADAS). The rapid and unrelenting collapse of vocations is unmistakable: from 1,501 major seminarians in 1999 to 916 in 2012, 875 in 2013 and 827 in 2014; and from 624 minor seminarians in 1997 to only 59 in 2012 (the last year for which there are statistics for minor seminarians).


The following statistics come from the article SACERDOCIO: LA CRISIS DE VOCACIONES IMPACTA EN LA IGLESIA published by the Argentinian news website Tres Lineas on Sunday:

Seminarians studying in Argentina:

1999: 1,501
2014: 827

Seminarians in the Metropolitan Seminary of the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires:

1980's (no precise year given): 200
2016: 80

The seminary received 15 new entrants this year. 

In 2016, Buenos Aires -- which has more than 3 million inhabitants -- will see only three of its seminarians ordained to the priesthood. 

The article reports that in Greater Buenos Aires. many parishes now either have no resident priest, or are served by priests from countries such as Poland and South Korea. The religious congregations are faring no better. 

Argentina's population stood at 43.1 million in 2015; the Pew Research Center reported in 2014 that 71% of Argentinians identify as Catholics. In short there were only 827 major seminarians for around 30 million Argentinian Catholics in 2014.


Before his ascension to the papacy as Pope Francis, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, S.J. was Auxiliary Bishop of Buenos Aires from 1992 until 1997, when he became Coadjutor Archbishop of the same Archdiocese. He became the Archbishop of Buenos Aires and Primate of Argentina in February 1998 and remained in that post until his election. As his successor he picked one of his former Auxiliary Bishops, Mario Aurelio Poli.