Saturday, February 19, 2011

Wilcannia-Forbes diocese under review

Catholic parishes could be closed in western New South Wales as part of a review of the Wilcannia-Forbes diocese, as concerns are raised about the drop in the number of priests available for 22 parishes, reports the ABC.

There are three vacant positions in the diocese.

A new committee has been established to investigate how to make the diocese viable, which will include ways of attracting more priests to the region.

The new administrator, Bishop Kevin Manning, says the diocese covers a large swathe of New South Wales and stretches to the Queensland border.

"Some of those priests on weekends would be driving two and three hours to say mass and it's taking its toll, " he said.

"Many of them are ageing.

"The viability of many parishes is another one, that the number of Catholics in some parishes has diminished and I suppose also there's many people who, nowadays, who are not practicing."

Bishop Manning says the diocese area is too large for the number of priests.

He says some parishes could be closed, depending on the committee's investigations.

A committee was initially set up last April to investigate whether the diocese could be divided between nine surrounding dioceses.

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