From our own Correspondent Rome, Wednesday Willi the world's priest shortage at crisis point, 400 delegates from 30 countries met in Rome this week for the first International Vocations Congress exclusively concerned with the priesthood. Among bishops, seminary rectors and .vocations directors were a number of laymen from the North American Serra Movement.
Replies to a questionnaire sent nut to 1,000 dioceses have suggested that the reduction of vocations is caused by many factors ranging from the tendency to sec the priesthood as one career among many to a reluctance to give up a life of comfort and pleasure.
The prime factor seems to be rapid industrialisation, and migration from country to town. The close contact between priest and rural flock is swamped, and boys no longer grow up with a keen sense of the priestly state. The proportion of priests to people in towns and cities is lower than in the country. Redistribution is urgently needed.
Europe provides 80 per cent of the world's missionaries, but her diocesan clergy decreased between 1957 and 1961, when, in terms of overall population increases, the number should have gone up by 5,000.
North America has the highest proportion of priests to people one to 536 in Canada. and one for about 750 in the United States. South America's 30 million population increase over the past five years needed 30,000 more priests. In fact, there were only 4,000 newly ordained.