Irish priests and nuns are now 'facing extinction'
Irish priests and nuns are "facing extinction" as their numbers hit an all-time low, writes Claire McCormack.
Data from an annual Vatican Library publication reveals that the number of ordained and professed people in the Catholic Church in Ireland has declined over the past decade.
The number of diocesan priests has fallen by 13pc from 3,203 in 2002 to 2,800 in 2012.
During the same period there was a drop from 2,159 to 1,888 priests who were with orders or congregations.
"We're facing extinction," said Fr Brendan Hoban, part of the leadership team at the Association of Catholic Priests.
"If the church hasn't priests the church can't survive."
Compiled from the Statistical Yearbook of the Church, the figures also reveal the number of women in the Irish church has declined dramatically too.