MANILA, August 12, 2013— The shortage of priests continues to be a major issue confronting the Catholic Church in the country, a retired archbishop said. 

Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Emeritus Oscar Cruz said that while the number of priests is increasing, it is not enough to match the growing Catholic population. 

“There are more Catholics now than before that’s why one priest is too little compared to the Catholic population,” he said.   

“There was a year when one priest was equal to 27,000 parishioners,” added Cruz, Judicial Vicar of the Church’s National Tribunal of Appeals. 

Data from the Catholic Directory of the Philippines showed that the Catholic population has rose from 70 million in 2011-2012 to 76 million in 2012-2013.

It also indicated an increase in the number of priests from 8,605 in 2011-2012 to 9,040 in 2012 to 2013. 

The archbishop, however, said the distribution is so uneven that a priest has to serve thousands of parishioners. 

There is a shortage in priests. Believe me, if all Catholics will go to Mass on a Sunday, our churches will not be enough to accommodate them all,” Cruz said. 

“Even if Masses are doubled or tripled still it won’t be enough because a parish can only accommodate 500 to 1000 people,” he also said.

In the Lingayen-Dagupan archdiocese, where he served for 18 years, Cruz said that the Catholic population was 1.2 million until 2009 when he retired while the number of churches is less than 50. 

“So, if all of them will attend Mass at the same time there’s no room for all of them,” said Cruz. (CBCPNews)