20-April-2007 -- Catholic World News Brief |

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Catholic Journalist Challenges Statistics on Married Priests

Rome, Apr. 20, 2007 (CWNews.com) - An influential Jesuit editor challenged the widely publicized claims that between 80,000 and 100,000 Catholic priests have abandoned ministry for marriage.

Father Gianpaolo Salvini, the editor of the Jesuit journal Civilta Cattolica, questions the statistics that have been cited by proponents of a change in the Church's discipline of clerical celibacy. He concludes that there cannot be more than 57,000 married priests in the world today: a figure far below the number frequently cited.

Between 1964 and 2004, the Civilta Cattolica editor concedes, almost 70,000 priests left their ministry to marry. However, he said, about 11,000 of those men have subsequently returned to the celibate life and resumed priestly ministry.

In recent years the number of priests leaving the clergy for marriage has slowed, the journal observed, with 5,383 priests leaving between 2000 and 2004-- just a small fraction of 1% of the world's total priestly population. From within that group, every year some priests seek reconciliation with the Church and a return to active ministry.

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