Religion: The Vocation Gap

In Rome recently a woman finished her confession and waited for her penance. "You will say six Hail Marys," said the priest, "and knit me a sweater—long sleeves, please."

The incident points up a situation that is increasingly worrying to the Roman Catholic Church in Italy—the threadbare poverty of the priesthood. Many a country priest begs for his staples, and depends on the traditional Sunday dinner with a parishioner for his one decent meal of the week. Doing the pastor's laundry is a well-established parish chore. Priests in the south have been known to...

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