WASHINGTON - As a new group of men begin studying to become Roman Catholic priests in the United States, here are some statistics:

_ The number of priests in the U.S. has declined 29 percent in the last 40 years; the Catholic population has grown 40 percent.

_ 1 in 3 candidates for the priesthood was born outside the U.S.

_ 7 in 10 are white or European-American. Asian priests are over-represented when compared with the U.S. Asian population; Hispanic priests are underrepresented. *

-Associated Press