EXPANSION and contraction of different parts of the Church in England and %Vales are revealed in the new edition of the Catholic -Directory for 1981.
UP go the numbers of seminarians. baptisms, marriages and conversions.
DOWN go the numbers of priests, religious, churches and Catholic schoolchildren.
The growth of applications to seminaries noticed in the last year is reflected in a rise of those training for the diocesan priesthood in senior seminaries from 480 to 536. hose in junior seminaries have declined from 250 to 227.
With the Catholic population up from an estimated 4,220,750 to 4,298.050, baptisms have increased by more than 4000. Receptions rose by 566 in all, with large increases in Cardiff. Leeds and Salford.
The number of priests including religious has fallen from 7315 to 7016. %lost religious communities haw dwindled, though the Carthusian house at Parkminster has expanded from I I priests to 12.
An alarming trend has been the fall in the number of schoolchildren by nearly 20,000, voith the closure of 20 schools The ennoblement of Lords Hunt and Whaddon brings the total of Catholic peers up to 73.
As usual the book includes some amusing errors. It says "Cardinals are priests of oustanding piet), judgment and ability ... they rank as Princess of royal blood."
*Associated Catholic Publications. Liverpool. £10.