WORLD WIDE priestly ordinations continued to increase slightly in 1994, leaving Vatican officials hopeful about the future of the global pastoral workforce.
According to the latest statistics, ordinations were up nearly one per cent in 1994 over the previous year. The biggest percentage increase was in ordinations of members of religious orders, while the rise in diocesan clergy has been smaller but steady.
The statistics were released last week at the Vatican, the same day the Vatican's annual yearbook, the Annuario Piantif: kio for 1996, was presented to the Pope.
However, despite the encouraging news about ordinations, the Holy See went on to observe that the total number of priests in the world has continued to decline because the number of priests who died or left the priesthood during the same period was greater than those ordained.
Rome now hopes that the steady increase in ordinations will reduce the average age and the death rate among the priest population over the coming years, and added that there are fewer priests leaving the priesthood now than in previous years.