Is the priest shortage real, and if so, how severe is it?
There were definitely plenty more active priests in the US back in the day.
But since then, mass attendance has dipped, and the number of confessions have dipped even more. Hearing confessions are a lot of work for the priest as they can only do one at a time. There are fewer schools, and less work in the schools for priests to do, and many of the tasks previously done by priests are now done by deacons and layfolk.
Of course , the total number of Catholics continues to rise, so there are an ever increasing number of baptisms, marriages and funerals for the fewer number of priests to do.
Overall, how much of a priest shortage is there really?