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Pope issues worldwide appeal for vocations

VATICAN CITY (CNS): Pope Benedict XVI made a renewed plea for vocations worldwide as he ordained 22 new priests last Sunday.

“Let us pray that in every parish and Christian community there be greater attention to vocations and priestly formation. That begins in the family, continues in the seminary and involves all those who are dedicated to the salvation of souls,” the Pope said in a homily.

The Mass in St Peter’s Basilica marked the annual celebration of the World Day of Prayer for Vocations.

Despite a recent upturn in the number of seminarians, the number of priests has declined substantially over the last 25 years.

Of the 22 new priests who will serve in the Diocese of Rome, 12 were from Italy and 10 from other countries on three continents.

According to the Vatican, the number of priests worldwide has decreased from 416,000 in 1979 to 406,000 in 2004, the last year for which statistics are available.

At the same time, the number of Catholics in the world has increased by 44 per cent.

Europe has had the biggest decline in the number of priests, with a drop of 19 per cent during the 25-year period. Africa has shown the biggest increase, with 86 per cent more priests.

(Copyright Catholic News Service/USCCB. All rights reserved.)

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