There is a "critical shortage" of Catholic chaplains in the Australian Defence Force, despite the denomination representing almost a quarter of its members, reports the Canberra Times.
Five of the nine Catholic positions in the navy, 16 of the 22 positions in the army and five of the eight positions in the air force are vacant or being filled by other denominations.
Director-General, Chaplaincy (Navy) and Baptist Reverend Garry Lock said the same priest shortage in the wider Australian community had affected the number of Catholic chaplains in the military.
''It's very difficult for the Catholic Bishop for the ADF to provide Catholic chaplains,'' he said.
''If one denominational group can't fill it and others can, then we will definitely fill those positions.''
Of the 59,587 permanent members of the ADF, 14,252 identified as Catholic, 11,100 as Anglican, 9760 as Protestant and 452 other faiths such as Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism or Islam. More than a third, or 24,023, listed no religious belief.
Defence short of Catholic chaplains (The Canberra Times)
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