Pope Francis says he is concerned about what he calls a "hemorrhage" of priests and nuns from the Catholic 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.