Catholic World News

Priest shortage growing despite ‘Francis effect’

August 10, 2017

The number of men studying for the Catholic priesthood has dropped during the pontificate of Pope Franics, notes Vatican journalist Marco Tosatti in an analysis for First Things.

The number of seminarians nearly doubled under St. John Paul II—from 63,882 worldwide in 1978, the year of his eleciton, to 114,439 in 2005 when he died. The numbers continued to rise for the first few years under Pope Benedict XVI, reaching a peak of 120,616 in 2011 before subsiding slightly to 118,251 in 2013, the year Benedict XVI resigned.

Since the election of Pope Francis, the number of seminarians worldwide has slipped to 116,843. Although that figure is still higher than the highest mark under Pope John Paul II, the shortage of priests has become more intense because of the faster growth of the overall Catholic population. In 2010 there were 2,900 Catholics for every priest in the world; today that figure is 3,091, and rising.

The shortage of priests, and the consequent rise in the ratio of priests to Catholic people, is far more pronounced in some parts of the world than others. The number of priests continues to rise in Africa; it is falling most dramatically in Europe.

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  • Posted by: Lucius49 - Aug. 11, 2017 11:09 AM ET USA

    What "effect"? This is the only effect I pray for: 31“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” Luke 22:31-32

  • Posted by: james-w-anderson8230 - Aug. 11, 2017 1:09 AM ET USA

    At least in the US, the orders with the most vocations are the very orders and seminarians that the Pope blasted recently. Maybe they saw through the "Francis effect" before the rest of us did.

  • Posted by: [email protected] - Aug. 11, 2017 12:19 AM ET USA

    It is falling in Europe because so many of its bishops are not preaching the Church teachings but what they it to be. They are catering to the secularism in society instead of preaching the truth. They leading many astray.

  • Posted by: jackbene3651 - Aug. 10, 2017 10:14 PM ET USA

    We know what draws men to the priesthood and it has little to do with Pope Francis' style of governance.