Pope to rally Catholic Church leaders in New York

19 2008

Pope to rally Catholic Church leaders in New York

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Pope Benedict on Saturday turns his attention to the present and future leaders of the U.S. Roman Catholic Church by celebrating Mass in St. Patrick's Cathedral and visiting a seminary near New York City.

With applications to the priesthood falling and inner city Catholic schools closing, the pope will try to rally the spirits of a Church recovering from the scandal of sexual abuse of minors by U.S. priests.

The scandal broke in 2002 and has forced U.S. dioceses to pay more than $2 billion in damages. Five have gone bankrupt.

Benedict, 81, met victims of sexual abuse by priests in Washington in a surprise move on Thursday, and he said on his way to the United States that "it is more important to have good priests than to have many priests."

He will attend a rally for some 22,000 young Catholics, including 300 seminarians, at St. Joseph's Seminary in the city of Yonkers on Saturday afternoon.

The number of Catholic priests in the United States has fallen from more than 58,000 in 1965 to just under 41,500 last year, according to the Center for Applied Research into the Apostolate at Georgetown University.

While the number of U.S. Catholics rose from 45.6 million in 1965 to 64.4 million in 2007, the number of graduate-level seminarians fell from 8,325 to 3,274.

At the seminary, the pope will also meet about 50 young people with disabilities and their caregivers.

By Claudia Parsons

Source by vaticano

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