Catholic church merges parishes as priest, churchgoer numbers fall

The Dutch Catholic church is ‘drastically’ reducing the number of parishes in the Netherlands to head off a reduction in both men training for the priesthood and churchgoers, Trouw reports on Tuesday.

But bishops are optimistic that within 20 years there will again be a good balance within the Catholic community, the paper says in its report on the Catholic bishops conference.

In some districts, major mergers are underway. For example, Den Bosch will have shrunk from 230 to just 50 parishes by 2015.

Nevertheless, the merger policy is controversial in some quarters because it destroys the individual character of different parishes and some say it will hasten the decline of the church, Trouw says.

In order to ensure there are enough priests, the church is looking abroad for trainees. This year, six of the 25 trainees came from India.

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