Why Ireland Is Running Out of Priests

Bryan Coll reports for Time:

Wanted: Clean-living young people for a long career (women need not apply). Responsibilities: Varied. Spiritual guidance, visiting the sick, public relations, marriages (own marriage not permitted). Hours: On call at all times. Salary: None, bar basic monthly stipend.

He hasn’t placed classified ads in the Irish press just yet, but according to Father Patrick Rushe, coordinator of vocations with the Catholic Church in Ireland, “We’ve done just about everything” else to attract young men to the priesthood. And yet the call of service in one of Europe’s most religious countries is falling on more deaf ears than ever.

Earlier this month, the Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, made a grim prediction about the future of the church in Ireland: If more young priests aren’t found quickly, the country’s parishes may soon not have enough clergy to survive. He told the congregation at St. Mary’s Pro-Cathedral in Dublin that his diocese had 46 priests ages 80 or older but only two under 35. It’s a similar story all over the island. According to a 2007 study of Catholic dioceses in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, about half of all priests are between the ages of 55 and 74.

Ireland’s ties to the Catholic Church run deep. The ordination of a family member was once regarded as a moment of great prestige, especially in rural areas. Even as recently as 1990, over 80% of Irish people said they attended Mass at least once a week. But the country’s relationship with the church began to change dramatically in the mid-1990s, when Ireland’s economy began to take off, ushering in years of unprecedented growth…

[continues in Time]

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  • tonyviner

    They might also get a few more applicants if they would advertise that it is a safe-haven for people that like to blow little kids. Thought these people liked honesty. Wait, that was Jesus, not his ''followers''.

    • emperorreagan

      Are you sure the drop in applicants isn't because the pedophiles have figured out that the Church is the first place the cops will look for people who fondle little boys?

      • tonyviner

        I may be wrong but I assumed, naturally, that the police were involved in these practices. Where else would they get the handcuffs needed to restrain these abhorrent children?

  • radiac

    Amen. Let's hope this will be the end of it.

  • Dave T Canada

    The church is right ….it is only a matter of time…it may take another two or three generations but eventually the earth will be free of religion ….all stripes throughout all countries.
    When the churches began thousands of years ago very few people had a grasp of even the rudiments of redaing or writing so the church did that for tyem and got in the back door and has stayed in the house of resaon far too long.
    Soon it will booted out the front door and into the street ….perhaps underground where it began…along with shamans and voo doo…and the world be be better off and carry on without sky faries and holy ghosts.

  • Dave T Canada

    The church is right ….it is only a matter of time…it may take another two or three generations but eventually the earth will be free of religion ….all stripes throughout all countries.
    When the churches began thousands of years ago very few people had a grasp of even the rudiments of redaing or writing so the church did that for tyem and got in the back door and has stayed in the house of resaon far too long.
    Soon it will booted out the front door and into the street ….perhaps underground where it began…along with shamans and voo doo…and the world be be better off and carry on without sky faries and holy ghosts.