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Beliefnet News

Will there soon be no Catholic priests left in Australia?

“My Irish Catholic grandmother may turn in her grave,” writes Jill Duchess of Hamilton for the Catholic Herald.  “In the Diocese of Brisbane there are 142 active priests of whom 13 from Africa or India have arrived in the past five years. They joined dozens of other foreign priests: 14 from Poland and Vietnam and an unspecified number from Italy, the Philippines, Korea, Lebanon, Ukraine, Croatia, Mexico, China and Samoa.

“In some city parishes they reflect the composition of the congregations.”

“The most common name in the Australian handbook of Catholic priests is no longer Irish, but Vietnamese,” said Father Adrian Farrelly of Clayfield. “Yes, we have many overseas priests. My Nigerian deacon here has just been ordained.”


“The average age of priests actively ministering is 62 years – and rising,” notes Peter Wilkinson, a former priest who resigned to marry and is now the father of four. He estimates that 20 to 22 per cent of the 1,523 active priests in parish ministries in Australia are on visas or foreign-born – soon it will be one in four.

Immigration controls mean they are restricted to three-year labor agreements and visas for ministry, training or study.

Often they do not speak English as their first language.

“Patching up the lack of priests with non-English-speaking clerics has received much criticism,” reports the Herald. “In the Outback some congregations only have a mass once a month. Australia had 2,833,438 Catholics and 3,800 priests in 1970. Now the number of Catholics has nearly doubled to 5.6 million, but priests are down to 3,070, including 99 Eastern Rite, eight military chaplains and 16 Opus Dei members.

Some of Australia’s shortfall will be filled by 20 Anglican priests, mostly married, who are converting. Under a loophole in church law, a priest who converts from the Church of England may be married.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment james

    i don’t think we need to worry about having more and more and more foreign or immigrant priest. when i was baptised to be a catholic in indonesia in 1963 ,there were about 80% of the catholic priest were dutch but now i think is only less than 0.5 the situation now is only the other way around,the african and the asian priests coming to western countries.the church is universal, nationality is not important,the teaching and the message is still the same.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment alice hall

    It’s time for you people to wake up to the fact that the “Novus Ordo” was designed to destroy those Catholics who did not know or understand their faith. We are seeing the tragic results.You do have an option as Our Lord said that “The true Faith will never die”.It is being preserved be The Society of St. Pius X. Find a chapel ,attend it, help the priests giving you the True Mass and leave those nous ordo churches to become relics of bad times.

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