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Number of priests growing worldwide, but dropping in North America

Catholic World News - February 14, 2011

A rise in the number of priests serving in Latin America is easing the shortage there, at the same time that the number of priests in North America is falling, L’Osservatore Romano reports.

The Vatican newspaper, citing figures from the Statistical Yearbook of the Church, which will be released later this month, observed that the Latin America’s portion of the world’s Catholic population has held relatively steady over the past decade, at slightly above 42%. But the percentage of Catholic clergy in Latin America has risen from 15 to 17.3% during the same period, thus easing a severe shortage of priests.

During the same period, the number of diocesan priests in North America dropped by 7%, and the number of religious clergy by 21%. However, L’Osservatore Romano noted that North America and Europe had enjoyed a “relative superabundance” of priests before that decline, whereas in Latin American the clergy shortage had been acute.

The Statistical Yearbook is based on the last accurate worldwide compilation of figures regarding Catholic population, which date from the end of 2009.

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