Catholic Church urged to stop stealing priests from Africa to fulfil European shortage

Mon 18 Nov 2019
By Cara Bentley

A retired deacon is calling for the Catholic Church to stop bringing priests from Africa to lead churches in the UK.

Michael Phelan from Buckinghamshire says the Church, much like the NHS, is robbing Africa of its priests to fill British dioceses.

Currently, the Catholic Church internationally has a shortage of priests, something which has been used as a catalyst for those who want married men to be allowed to be ordained and those who want women priests.
Speaking to Premier, Rev Phelan said: "Their solution to the problem has been importing people from third world countries, a bit like the National Health Service, where we rely upon robbing developing countries of their talent in that way.



"The Catholic Church is tending to recruit priests from Africa and India and various other places to make up for the shortage of numbers, which has cultural problems in that there are differences in the culture but also...where you have a service of the word and communion, the word does rely upon people being able to understand the foreign priest who's talking and where there are sort of either pronunciation problems or even vocabulary problems."

"My youngest brother is a missionary in East Africa. So I'm certainly not against the diversity in the church. But it means that if you have people who can't be understood in the locality or easily understood, that doesn't help in terms of spreading the good news of Jesus Christ."

In response to his call, a spokesperson for the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales said: "The ratio of priests to people in England and Wales is reasonably healthy - around 1 priest to 1,000 parishioners.

"The number of Catholics attending Mass from Africa, Asia and South America has increased dramatically in the last decade, particularly in urban areas. As a result, from diocese to diocese, much prayer, consultation and reflection has gone into how best to respond to that changing pastoral reality. The Church in this country has always been enriched by priests from other parts of the world coming to minister here."


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