Referring to figures in the official Irish Catholic Directory, it noted that 166 priests and brothers died in 2019, 223 in 2020, and 131 up to September 2021. The figures added up to a total of 520 deceased priests and brothers.
The newspaper said that “the figures from the directories are likely to be conservative, because not every religious order or diocese reports the death of its clergy to Veritas,” the publisher of the directories.
Ireland, a country of almost five million people, has seen a decline in the number of citizens identifying as Catholic in recent years.
The 2011 census found that 84.2% of the population identified as Catholic. That figure fell to 78.3% in the 2016 census. The next census will take place in April.
The Irish Examiner reported last month that the number of active priests is likely to plummet when the country emerges from the pandemic.
Clergy postponed their retirements to support colleagues struggling to serve the Catholic community during the crisis, it said.
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