In 1974 there were 46 Million Catholics in the USA and 400,000 marriages. In 2004 there were 70 million Catholics and only 200,000 marriages.
So his advice:
OK guys, time to man up and ask her out on a date! Too many of you men are slow in looking for a bride. When I was ordained twenty years ago I had a lot of marriages. Today there are far fewer, and those that marry are much older. Perhaps maturity is a good thing PRIOR to marriage but couples are really waiting a long time these days. Now I was not born yesterday and I know that part of the reason for the delay is that couples are often fornicating and are just plain shacked up as well. True marriage is delayed as false notions of sexuality and marriage are indulged.
But there is also another phenomenon that is harder to understand. I have quite a number of young women, who are very attractive I might add, tell me that they are seldom asked out on dates, that young men don’t seem very good at taking initiative when it comes to dating and marriage. Now come on guys, be a man and get out there and ask her out!
I remember back in high school and college when I was a dating man, prior to discovering my call to be a priest, I remember that there were risks that you took when you asked a girl out. She might say no. She might even laugh. I might feel humiliated or depressed. Well? Welcome to life! Some of the more embarrassing moments of my life are related to the dating game. So I understand guys. But do what I did: get out there anyway! Take the risk, ask her out! Forget about your fragile little ego, be man and make the ask. You might be surprised. Many attractive young ladies are just waiting for some one man enough to ask them out on a serious date. I’m not talking about some vague thing like, “Maybe I’ll see you at the social tomorrow.” Ask her out on a real date. Just you and her. Spend a little money on her and dress well for the occasion.
Msgr. Pope goes on to say that there is a good focus in the Church on vocations to the priesthood and religious life, but we're neglecting that marriage (and child-rearing) has fallen on hard times. And child-rearing, he says, is a fundamental pillar of the Church's evangelization plan:
Let’s have a lot of young Catholics get married FIRST, have lots of babies and raise them Catholic.
I went to a small, orthodox, great books program at college that would seem to be a good breeding ground for vocations to the priesthood. At least among my friends it was not, although several seriously considered it.
Over the last month I've had two good friends visit on a pass through KC - one with eight kids and one with five and another on the way. This week my best man is passing through with his wife and nine kids. None of these families appear to be finished. Two of the dads very seriously considered a vocation to the priesthood.
So did my little college community fail in fostering vocations?
I don't think so. Msgr. Pope might suggest that young men attentive to the call of the Holy Spirit and the needs of the Church might just be called to "Man-up and ask her out".
Read the rest of Msgr. Pope's post which includes a video on internet dating.