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No shortage of priests, researcher says

A researcher at Catholic University of America says the shortage of Catholic priests is a fallacy, because there are plenty of priests to serve parishioners who actually attend Mass.

Professor D. Paul Sullins acknowledged the ``crippling shortage'' of priests in some areas, but argued that demand for the sacraments has not kept pace with either the growth in the number of parishioners or the decline in the number of priests.

``If we count only the parishioners who actually show up for Mass, there is no numerical shortage, much less a crisis, in the supply of clergy compared to the 1960s,'' wrote Sullins, a professor of sociology, in the 13 May issue of America magazine.

Between 1965 and 2001, the number of priests in the United States fell from 58,000 to 45,000. Ordinations of new priests fell from 994 to 509 annually over the same period, according to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University. Meanwhile, the number of U.S. Catholics has grown from 45 million to about 62 million.

Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, Georgetown University
Catholic University of America
D. Paul Sullins

The Mercury News

3 Jun 2002