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Italian study fuels optimism for future of priesthood

An Italian study has put a positive spin on the vocations crisis, highlighting a rise in the number of seminarians.

Fr Father Vito Magno of the vocational review Rogate Ergo said that during the 23 years between 1978 and 2001, the number of priests worldwide dropped from 420,000 to 405,000. On the other hand, the number of seminarians almost doubled to 112,244 and the figure for permanent deacons increased from 6000 to 29,000.

The study blamed the drop in the priest figure on the reduced number of religious order priests.

Fr Magno said the decrease is in contrast to the increase in the number of priests in Africa, Asia and some Latin American countries.

Over the past 25 years, particularly in Africa, the number of seminarians has multiplied by four and in Asia by five. In Europe, the number has increased to 26,000 at present from 24,000 in 1978.

The study revealed a more complex situation in regard to women religious. In 1978, they numbered 991,000; now they total 792,000. There is no significant growth in the number of women entering novitiates.


Rogato Ergo

14 May 2003