The number of people becoming Catholic priests in Germany has dropped to its lowest level ever.
Only 58 men were ordained into the Catholic clergy in 2015, according to new figures released by the German Episcopal Conference.
That numbers dropped by more than half over the last ten years, when 122 priests were ordained in 2005. It was nearly five times higher fifty years ago, when 500 were ordained in 1965.
The numbers explain a gradual drop in Catholic clergy numbers, with 14,000 serving priests today compared to 20,000 in 1990.
Of the priests who responded in an Episcopal Conference survey, 54% went to confession "once a year or less". The figures have prompted some to question the spiritual life of serving priests.
The Catholic Church in Germany has redefined current diocesan boundaries and included more lay people in ministry and brought in more foreign priests in order to address falling numbers of Germans entering the clergy.
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