The number of Catholic diocesan priests in Ireland dropped 13 per cent in the decade between 2002 and 2012, according to new figures. The fall in the number of priests in religious congregations and orders was similar, while the number of nuns dropped by 23 per cent. The figures are contained in the Statistical Yearbook of the Church, an annual Vatican Library publication.
They show the number of diocesan priests in Ireland dropped from 3,203 in 2002 to 2,800 in 2012, a fall of 403 in the decade. Over the same period, the number of religious priests – members of congregations and orders – dropped from 2,159 to 1,888 in 2012, a fall of 271 (12.5 per cent).
For the female congregations, the drop in numbers was bigger, down from 8,953 in 2002 to 6,912 – a fall of 2,041.
The number of laymen who have taken temporary or perpetual vows also fell. In 2002 they numbered 869, but by 2012, they were down to 628, a drop of 241, or 28 per cent, in the decade. On a more positive note for the church, the number of students of philosophy and theology at diocesan and religious centres in Ireland during the same decade showed a smaller decline. It was down from 206 in 2002 to 181 in 2012, a drop of 25 or 12.1 per cent.
My Comment: The ACP commented on the statistics with their usual “solution” – married clergy, female ordinations, bring back those who left and married etc. ………. Yawn…Yawn….yawn