The Pontiff told participants at a Vatican event on religious life that the loss of clergy is weakening the Church

Pope Francis says he is concerned about what he calls a “haemorrhage” of priests and nuns from the Church.

The Pope on Saturday told participants at a Vatican gathering on religious life that the loss of clergy is weakening the Church.

First among the factors he cited as causing nuns and priests to quit their vocations is a society that discourages lifelong commitments. Francis lamented that many conduct their lives based on “a la carte” choices.

For decades, the Catholic Church in many developed countries has seen the number of priests and nuns on the decline.

“There are many factors which affect fidelity [to one’s vocation] in this era of change, which is not only a changing era, in which it is difficult to assume responsibilities which are serious and definitive,” Pope Francis said, according to Vatican Radio.

He added: “This culture induces the need to always have ‘side doors’ open to other possibilities; it feeds consumerism and forgets the beauty of a simple and austere life, and in many cases causes an existential void.

“It has also produces a powerful practical relativism, according to which everything is judged in terms of a self-realisation which is often extraneous to the values of the Gospel.”