Latin America's Dire Need for Priests Is Highlighted

VATICAN CITY, MARCH 2, 2003 ( Vocations are the priority of the Catholic Church in Latin America, the Holy See says.

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Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re and Bishop Cipriano Calderon, president and vice president, respectively, of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, highlighted this priority in a letter sent on the occasion of the Day of Spanish-speaking America. The event was observed today in the dioceses of Spain.

«John Paul II has indicated as a priority for Latin America ‘the fomenting and care of vocations,’ given that that continent ‘still needs many more priests,'» the message sent by the commission states.

Many villages in Latin America only have Mass once a month because of the shortage of priests.

According to the Church’s Statistical Yearbook, there are 20,874 baptized Catholics per priest in Cuba; 14,035 in Honduras; 10,809 in Nicaragua.

By comparison, in Ireland there are 870 Catholics per priest; in the United States 1,312; in Spain 1,362; and in Italy 1,017.

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