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58 French dioceses have no ordinations this year

Nine new French Catholic priests are ordained during a ceremony in Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris, on June 26, 2010 (Getty Images)

The number of new ordinations in France has fallen this year, from 133 in 2017 to 114.

According to figures from La Croix, 82 of these new priests are diocesan, while the rest are members of various orders and societies of apostolic life.

Paris and Bordeaux are the dioceses with most ordinations – six each – however, this still marks a considerable decline for Paris, which had 10 in 2017 and 11 in 2016.

Lyon, Versailles and Fréjus-Toulon follow with five each, then Evry with four.

However, a total of 58 dioceses had no ordinations at all.

In contrast, the “traditionalist” communities, where priests primarily celebrate Mass in the Old Rite, are continuing to grow. La Croix calculates that 20 per cent of new priests this year come from communities classed as “traditional” or “classical”.

These include three ordinations for the Institute of the Good Shepherd, two for the Priestly Fraternity of St Peter (FSSP) and two for the Institute of Christ the King. Younger priests are particularly well-represented among these groups.

La Croix also reports that France has witnessed a rise in late vocations in recent years as the number of older people studying for the priesthood steadily rises. These include the new Archbishop of Paris, Michel Aupetit, who entered seminary at the age of 39.

A survey by the French bishops’ conference of first and second-year seminarians in 2016 found that four per cent were aged 36-40, while a further two per cent were 41-45. This means that by the time they are ordained, around a dozen will be 42 or older.