Seminarians Double In 25 Years

Thanks to Growth of Vocations in Asia and Africa

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 17, 2005 ( Although the Church counts on a decreasing number of clergy worldwide, the number of seminarians has almost doubled, reveals the latest edition of Church statistics.

The «Statistical Yearbook of the Church 2003» reported an increase from 64,000 in 1978, to more than 112,000 in 2001-2003, according to L’Osservatore Romano.

The growth, however, is «different from continent to continent,» reported the semi-official Vatican newspaper.

In 1978, Europe had 37% of the total number of major diocesan and religious seminarians, America 34%, Asia 18% and Africa less than 9%.

25 years later, the European contribution has decreased to less than 22%, the American is more or less stable, remaining at 33%, while the Asian has increased to 25% and the African to almost 20%.

The number of European seminarians grew (from 24,000 to 30,000) from 1978 to 1985, remained stable until 1994-1995, and has since then decreased to a number similar to that of 25 years ago.

America registered regular development in the number of candidates to the priesthood until 1998; since then it has stabilized between 36,000 and 37,000.

Africa and Asia have registered constant growth, although in the last few years there has been a slowing down of the same.

In Africa and Asia there are, respectively, 72 and 60 candidates to the priesthood for every 100 priests.

«Particularly worrying is the European situation, where the priestly vocation seems extremely weakened: there were only 12 candidates for every 100 priests in 2003, though in 1978 there were even less, not even reaching 10,» noted L’Osservatore Romano.

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