IF there is a shortage crisis in the priesthood in the Catholic or Anglican church, it is of their own making.

I do not know the circumstances of RC priests very well, but C of E vicars, as we have read, are poverty-stricken.

One example I know of is a vicar with many years devoted service to the community having to live in one of the largest and most desirable detached houses in East Lancashire, with a meagre £20,000 plus income to manage on.

The Bishop of Blackburn has warned the Lancashire Evening Telegraph that congregations must put some money into the collection plate or churches will close.

I know of one church worship centre that costs £800 a week to run which has only £200 a week in the collection plate.

But it seems to me that the church buildings have become the icon of the church hierarchy. Instead of putting trained people to work in the community, the church puts the majority of its income into buildings full of empty seats.

The message is clear: sell your church buildings and rent a room small enough to hold the remaining few communicants who can rub shoulders with one another again after years lost in the vast open spaces of empty chairs and lifeless stones.

BARRY WALSH, Calgary Avenue, Lammack, Blackburn.