Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Study: Nearly half of new priests were discouraged against seminary

Conversations around the kitchen table may be more responsible for the shortage of Roman Catholic priests in the U.S. than influences from American culture, a new study suggests.

Almost 45% of Catholic priests planning to be ordained this year said they were discouraged from considering the priesthood, according to a survey produced by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University for the U.S. bishops.

Of those, nearly 6 in 10 said a parent or family member was the source of the discouragement. Fifty-one percent said a friend or classmate had counseled them against the priesthood, and 15% said a priest or other clergy had. The percentages add up to more than 100 because respondents could select more than one category.

The number of Catholic priests in the U.S. has dropped steadily since the 1970s, a worrisome trend for church leaders. In 2000, there were 45,700 priests, compared to 40,600 in 2008. The U.S. church will ordain 465 priests in 2009; 310 responded to the CARA survey.

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