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Roman Catholic Church imports more priests

OWENSBORO, Ky., Dec. 28 (UPI) -- The Roman Catholic Church says one in six diocesan priests now serving in the United States is from another country.

An estimated 300 priests from abroad arrive annually to work in the United States while about one third of the men studying in Catholic seminaries in the United States are foreign-born, The New York Times reported Sunday.

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"If we didn't get international priests, some of our guys would have had five parishes" to oversee, said the Rev. Darrell Venters, who in the last six years has brought 12 priests from Africa, Asia and Latin America to the Catholic Diocese of Owensboro, Ky.

The foreign priests often have little in common with parishioners, unlike priests in earlier times who came from Ireland, Italy and Poland and ministered to immigrant flocks in their native language, the Times reported.

Dioceses throughout the United States report the pool of priests is shrinking through retirements, deaths and some who were removed from ministry after accusations of sexual abuse against young people, the Times reported.

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