Burdens of office

Man with stressful thoughtsMegan Cornwell discusses the challenges priests face and the danger to mental health. 

Catholic priests are feeling under pressure, and increasing numbers are suffering from depression and anxiety. But support for clergy with mental-health problems is patchy and piecemeal.

In September a 65-year-old priest in Essex told his bishop he was unable to take on responsibility for another two parishes, after the elderly clergy looking after those communities had either retired or died. He felt overwhelmed. He was celebrating four Masses every weekend, providing support to local schools, hospitals and hospices, and there was no other priest in the diocese available to assist him.

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