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A priest shortage is the situation of a reduced number of priests in religions, especially the Roman Catholic Church. Pope Benedict XVI said on 11 September 2006 in Altöttingmarker, Germanymarker, that he is sad over this situation in the Roman Catholic Church. The 1980s and 1990s saw drops in the number of priests, a trend which has been reversed in the 21st century, which has seen moderate growth in priest numbers. The number of Catholic priests is now increasing worldwide, but there have been small declines in figures for Europe and the Americas.


With regard to the USA, in the book Goodbye, Good Men, Michael S. Rose claims that orthodox seminary applicants may be discriminated against and turned away in many American dioceses.

Another book that discusses this topic is Are Today's Seminaries Catholic?: The Unholy Subversion of Priestly Formation, published in 1990, was the first book to postulate that for Catholic bishops to destroy the Catholic Church, they would have to begin by destroying and eliminating the Catholic priesthood starting with orthodox seminarians.


The priest shortage leads to a sacramental and pastoral deficiency for the faithful of a certain area. The distances that must be covered for a Mass, baptism, etc. become ever longer, since the reduced number of priests understandably leads to a reduced amount of services. On the other hand, for the priests the distances become greater and they thus have less time for the individual churchgoer, since they must care for a greater number of them.

In some western countries the shortages have meant many parishes have had to share a priest and staff with one or more other parishes or have had to close. In many parishes, some of the duties performed by priests are instead performed by other personnel, such as deacons and members of the laity.

Further literature

  • Dean R. Hoge, The First Five Years of the Priesthood: A Study of Newly Ordained Catholic Priests. Liturgical Press, Collegeville, Minnesota 2002. Page 3.
  • A. W. Richard Sipe, Celibacy in Crisis: A Secret World Revisited. Brunner-Routledge, New York and Hove 2003. Page 136.


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