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Austin Cline

Catholic Priests: Overworked, Overburdened

By September 24, 2003

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Roman Catholic priests are having a really difficult time - there are really too few of them for the job they have to do, so they have to do the work of several priests. This constantly keeps them moving and working, never having enough time for rest. There are more than 3,000 parishes in the United States without their own priests.

ABC News discusses the implications:

"There's many days where I start at about 7:00 in the morning, and I go right through 'til about 11:00 at night. And that's not very good when you're 70 years old," said Monsignor John Powlis, who has been conducting mass at a church in Brooklyn for 44 years.
The shortage is one reason priests in Milwaukee sent a letter to church leaders recently supporting the idea of married clergy. Priests in several other cities may soon do the same. Powlis and other American priests believe they would get the help they need if the church would accept married priests.

The fewer priests there are, the more work those left have to deal with - and that, in turn, makes the priesthood even less attractive to younger people while making retirement more attractive to older priests. In the end, it's a vicious cycle where the current problem helps to make the problem worse over time. The Roman Catholic Church actually imports priests from abroad in order to alleviate the situation, but that won't work forever.

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