Nearly half of Catholic priests in England and Wales are now aged over 70, a new study has shown.
Figures compiled by the Movement for
Married Clergy suggest that more than 45 per cent of the 4,149 priests
in England and Wales are older than 70.
The figures, which were extrapolated using the birth dates of a
sample of around 25 per cent of secular priests taken from diocesan
directories or offices, suggest that the number of priests under 70 was
projected to fall to 1,572 in 10 years' time, from 2,681 last year.
The National Office for Vocation has responded by saying the surge in
vocations seen in the mid-twentieth century was an anomaly and that the
Church was now seeing "an adjustment to a more usual number".