According to the latest statistics, the number of ordinands in the seminaries of Eastern Europe has increased, reports CNS/Agnuz. For example, in Poland, the number of people wishing to enrol in seminary studies has increased by 10%. At present in Poland there are 6810 seminarians, which is equivalent to 25% of all applicants for the priesthood in Europe.
In the countries of Western Europe, however, the number of those applying to go to seminary has substantially decreased. In traditionally Catholic Ireland, seven out of eight seminaries have discontinued accepting students. As a result, there are now only 110 seminarians, all of whom study at St Patrick’s College. In Belgium, which has deep Catholic roots, the number of persons wishing to become priests has also significantly decreased. In neighbouring France 927 applicants were accepted by theological seminaries in 2001, contrasting with 1210 in 1991. In [the French-speaking part of] Switzerland not a single seminarian was accepted in 2002, although normally this country enrols 5 to 10 candidates for theological institutions.
The number of seminarians being ordained is also decreasing in the countries of Western Europe. Thus, in Ireland only about 80 priests are now being ordained every year, while in 1965 there were 659.
This item was originally published in Europaica, No. 5, January 2002. Europaica is an online bulletin published by the representation of the Russian Orthodox Church to the European Institutions.
© The Editor, Europaica Bulletin, 2002-2003.