This actually has something to do with the Just Third Way. Someone recently started a thread in a Facebook discussion about the “vocations crisis” in the Catholic Church. Some people gave one answer, others another. Most bemoaned the fact that there weren’t enough ordinations. While I don’t have an answer, I thought I’d add my two cents, anyway.
To show you how different the perspective can be, in “my” diocese we have deaconate and priestly ordinations every year. I don’t recall that we’ve ever had less than three new priests a year since I’ve been in the choir, and my first year we had thirteen. In all that time, I only recall one poor fellow who (for reasons I have been careful not to inquire about or discuss) left active ministry. We in the Cathedral Choir tend to take an unwarranted proprietary interest in the new priests, and keep an eye on their progress since we “helped” ordain them, even though it’s something of an annual chore, ho hum.
In contrast, where I came from in the Midwest, there was great rejoicing a couple of years ago when they had their first ordination in more than 20 years. It even made the secular newspapers and the other media. It was an Event with a capital E. People had to look up what to do, with an entire generation or more never having seen such a thing. (Well . . . I’ve never actually seen it myself, since from where I sit or stand in the choir you can’t see the sanctuary or anybody in it unless it’s a really tall celebrant. Sometimes I see a crazy hat or two bobbing by, but that’s it. The choir is up and behind the altar.)
To be honest, this sort of thing really can’t be blamed on female altar servers, as many people suppose, since it started decades before that was allowed. It can’t be said to have helped any, though. Part of it may be that many guys just don’t see anything special about it any more. After all, when you don’t get to wear a special uniform or do neat stuff like giving people hell in a sermon (in a nice way, of course), and you’re regarded as inconsequential or evil by the media, most guys would rather be firemen, astronauts, policemen, or Marines. Letting girls into those things hasn’t really hurt their recruitment.
My associate, who isn’t even Christian, thinks that if the Church would get behind the Just Third Way instead of pushing capitalism and (more often) all the different varieties of socialism, recruitment (and conversions) would soar. He could be right. The Church does not and cannot endorse any particular system. The Just Third Way is an expression of natural law principles that we believe is fully consistent with Catholic social teaching — as well as Islamic and Jewish, for that matter; there should be no problem there. The specific system we recommend as an application of the principles is Capital Homesteading — but anything consistent with the basic principles would do the trick.
There may be something in the belief that the Just Third Way could increase vocations. Adherents of capitalism and socialism (under many names; “socialism” has been condemned, so you can’t call it that) tend either to be either weak or obnoxious, “guilting” or clubbing people into “agreement” with them. The socialists are the worst at this, spewing out vitriol and hatred against pretty much everyone else, with the result that John Paul II said that they are driving the very people out of the Church the Church needs to help make things better (Ecclesia in America, § 67). What guy really wants to be just like a bully or a wimp?
On the other hand, coming out in support of something that can be proven by the use of reason (real reason, not the tripe that passes for reason these days) gives people something to latch on to that doesn’t rely on denigrating others or attacking them. Getting specific about principles is very impressive to guys. It’s how the communists and the cults recruit people. Being vague on specifics and only getting animated when you’re spewing out hate against somebody, and you’ll attract bullies and wimps who won’t stay the course (thankfully) in any event.