by our Rome correspondent THE Vatican is planning to send European priests to Latin America to reinforce the clergy's dwindling ranks in the sub-continent. The so-called "Emergency Plan" was devised by a special Roman curia commission convened last October at the close of the synod on the priesthood.
Latin America, home to 42.2 per cent, or 378 million, of the world's Catholics, has fewer priests in proportion to the number of faithful than any other region. Only 13 per cent of total clergy are at work in the area.
This compares with Europe and North America where 73.14 per cent of the clergy tend to a Catholic population of just 38.81 per cent.
• In Cuba, there is only one priest for every 20,000 faithful and one for every 18,000 in north eastern Brazil.
In contrast, there is one priest for every 337 faithful in Malta, one for every 719 in Ireland and one for every 940 in Italy.
Presenting the plan for Latin America, the Congregation for Catholic Education and Seminaries said the crisis had to be resolved by more intense promotion of vocations and by guaranteeing new and "better" training for priests.