The Archdiocese of Paderborn in Germany will lose two-thirds of its priests in the next fifteen years, diocesan personnel manager Andreas Kurte has revealed.

Driving the news

Kurte spoke to Dom Radio in the wake of Paderborn priest Norbert Wohlgemuth’s spectacular resignation last week citing frustration with a “power-obsessed, arrogant Church”.

Kurte said Wohlgemuth’s resignation raises the question of “how can we live as priests under changed conditions, in view of the challenges facing us as a Church and in our world”.

Though the Paderborn HR manager was careful not to dismiss the case of Wohlgemuth, he said studies have shown “stress and burn-out in the clergy are not greater than in our society as a whole”.

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The big picture

Kurte revealed the Archdiocese of Paderborn currently has 490 priests in active ministry.

Of the nearly 5 million will live within the bounds of the local Church, just over 1.5 million are Catholic.

But Kurte said the Church expected the number of its priests to fall to 170 by 2034.

Paderborn’s present 290 lay ministers will also fall to 170 in the next fifteen years.

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Go deeper

Kurte admitted the decline in numbers will mean “huge changes” in the Archdiocese of Paderborn.

He said Church leadership is currently looking into “alternative models” for guaranteeing parish ministry into the future.

These include the appointment of lay administrators in all of the diocese’s parish clusters, to free up priests to concentrate on pastoral care.

It could also mean following the example of other German dioceses such as Osnabrück or Hamburg and the appointment of laypeople as parish directors.

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Author

PhD in ancient Jewish/Christian history and philosophy. University ethics lecturer with 4 years' experience in religion journalism.