New Catholic priests in Europe mainly Polish

About a quarter of all new Catholic priests in Europe are Polish, according to data from the Polish Institute for Catholic Church Statistics.

Furthermore, since 2000 the statistics show a decline in the number of new priests in Poland, as well as a rise in the number of those leaving the priesthood.

Around 350 new Catholic priests have been ordained each year in Poland in the last few years. There were 1,272 in 2017, the last year for which data are available.

The total number of priestly ordinations worldwide in 2017 was 5,800.

While the overall number of diocesan priests around the world has been growing since 2000, reaching 281,000 in 2017, the opposite trend is true for Europe. There, numbers have fallen to 125,000 – down from almost 141,000 in 2003 and 132,000 in 2011.

The other major trend highlighted by the data is a rise in the number of those leaving the priesthood.

While data varies from year to year, the global trend was a reduction until 2009.

This was followed by a steady rise in resignations throughout the world. In 2017, 739 diocesan priests left the priesthood.

In Europe too, more diocesan priests have been leaving in the last decade, although a much higher number was recorded in 2012, with 222 cases, than the 146 from 2017, reports

Even though in Poland, 73 priests resigned in 2017 (half the European total), the Church is still considered very influential in Poland.

Over 90% of Poles say they are Catholic.

However, a Pew Research survey in 2018 showed church attendance among the younger generation is falling in Poland at the fastest rate in the world.

Only 26% of those below the age of 40 go to church every Sunday, compared to 55% of the over-40s.

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