A no-brainer

It’s no great secret that some Catholic priests are married. And when they exit the sacristy to say Mass on a Sunday morning, it’s no great secret that their wives and children are probably in the front seats.
Within the last few decades a few hundred Anglican priests converted to Catholicism and Catholic parishes in England are now quite used to having married Roman Catholic priests.
In one parish when the resident PP was taken ill, a former Anglican priest arrived to say Mass from the far end of the diocese. Having explained to the congregation that their own priest was ill he apologised for his delay in arriving on the grounds that his wife wasn’t keeping that well. It raised a few eyebrows, but just a few.
Catholics in England seem to have no problem with married priests and Church authorities seem to have even less, especially as vocations begin to plummet. The word is that the transition of a few hundred priests from Anglicanism to Catholicism has been, as we say, seamless.
But if Catholics and Church authorities in England have no problem with married Catholic priests how come in Ireland we seem to be getting ourselves in a sweat even at the suggestion that we might discuss the possibility?
A few years ago, Kilmore diocese (that’s Cavan, mainly) had a consultation process in their parishes. Apparently this was an unusual form of church consultation, in that the conclusions hadn’t been decided by the authorities BEFORE the consultation had taken place.
Inevitably what surfaced at the open meetings in Kilmore parishes was the blunt $60,000 question: what will happen to the Catholic Church in Ireland when priests die out? The general feeling was that some real alternatives (as distinct from the usual pious ones) should be considered: the ordination of married men; the ordination of women deacons; the recall of priests who had left to get married; and a discussion around mandatory celibacy. The nuclear option of ordination of women was not considered to my knowledge. (p.s. For those with an irony-deficit, please ignore the last sentence!)
It was clear through the consultation that Catholics in Kilmore wanted this key issue in their deliberations to be given priority, and not shuffled aside to an appendix or a footnote at the end of an official report. When it became clear that Kilmore diocese, or any other diocese, could not introduce the proposed changes on their own, they asked their bishop, Leo O’Reilly, to bring the matter further and he promised that he would.
Three things gave the Kilmore proposals some purchase: one, it was the first time such proposals had officially emanated from Catholics; two, it was the first ‘real’ solution to a crisis that without action will have profound and calamitous repercussions for the Catholic Church in Ireland; and, three, around that time a bishop friend of Pope Francis in Brazil asked him what he could do about the scarcity of priests in his diocese and Francis replied, ‘Discuss it with your fellow-bishops in Brazil and if you come up with a proposal, I’ll discuss it with you’.
Bishop O’Reilly was as good as his word. The Kilmore recommendations were discussed twice, I believe, at the Irish Bishops’ meetings in Maynooth but no consensus emerged so no proposal made its way to Rome – though the word is that the crisis in vocations was discussed when the bishops met the Pope a month or so ago.
While we might wring our hands in exasperation that our leaders seem so incapable of arriving at a point where Irish Catholics have camped for ages, the key point here is that we’ve the first dancers on the floor. The debate is on.
A recent article provocatively entitled, ‘Now is the time for married priests’, by American Jesuit, Thomas Reese, in the National Catholic Reporter, in which he calls for optional celibacy for priests, makes the point that he couldn’t have written such an article ten years ago.
Eventually, inevitably, the penny eventually drops and what seemed like a gentle flute lamenting in the distance becomes the equivalent of a brass band playing in a small room. Interestingly Archbishop Charles Brown, the former papal nuncio, soon to take up a position in Albania, made the point, after his last public Mass in Ireland, that he was alarmed at the age-profile of Irish priests, the few entering seminaries and his fear that the Irish Church was on a cliff edge, ready to go into ‘free fall’.
Strangely, while in office as papal nuncio, Archbishop Brown didn’t strike such a pessimistic note; indeed to the frustration of many he kept talking about ‘green shoots of recovery’ in the Irish Church. Now, suddenly, it seems, we’re in free-fall. So change happens and inevitable change can come very quickly when the Catholic Church runs out of options. That’s where we are now.
A few weeks ago, Pope Francis spoke about the possibility of ordaining married men of proven character but also seemed to suggest that the celibacy rule would remain as it is.
Some were disappointed with what they felt was the sound of a heavy door being rammed shut in their faces. I’m not, I have to say. That’s the way Francis works. When there’s an idea whose time has come he throws out a few comments to get the conversation going in the hope that ultimately a debate will bring issues to the table of bishops’ conferences. I have no doubt but that if the bishops (in Ireland and elsewhere) could get their act together Francis will have no problem with optional celibacy for priests.
The logic is irrefutable: no priest, no Mass, no Church. A no-brainer, people call it.

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  1. It is also a ‘No Brainer’ that all ministries should be open to women. Sadly our patriarchal hierarchy are terrified of this option, despite the fact that Jesus in his ministry dealt with women as equals. Our church is at least 50% made up of women. Yet our hierarchy excludes all women and married persons. So instead of equality we have a church where all decision making has been usurped by 414,000 celibate males who impose their ideas on 1.22 billion people. Power corrupts.

  2. Eddie Finnegan says:

    “The nuclear option of the (priestly) ordination of women was not considered, to my knowledge.(ps. for those with an irony-deficit, please ignore the last sentence!” (Brendan on the Kilmore initiative)
    “Within the last few decades a few hundred Anglican priests converted to Catholicism and Catholic parishes in England are now quite used to having married Roman Catholic priests.” (Brendan on Pope Benedict’s anti-ecumenical Anglican Ordinariate of 2011 and Cardinal Hume’s clutch of married Anglican “converted” clergymen in search of a safe haven in the mid-1990s)
    I think it may be my somewhat impaired irony-deficit that impels me to wonder just how many of those few hundred married Catholic priests of the past two decades were really seeking a heaven-haven, safeguarding their Anglican patrimony & matrimony, but free from the reality of vesting alongside women priest colleagues and (perish the thought!) the imminent threat of WOMEN BISHOPS taking charge of their Anglican dioceses.
    For better or worse, our Church of Ireland married clerics seem to be made of sterner stuff – not even the presence of a female bishop in Maynooth, married to one of the lower clergy, has driven the C of I married clergy en masse or to Mass in the bosom of Rome. I’m afraid we’re reduced to praying for home-grown vocations after all. Re-open all those converted diocesan junior and minor seminaries.

  3. very good article with hope filled comments. I was surprised at Pope Francis’ comments on optional celibacy but I think he is playing to the bigger picture! Ordaining older men is only part of the answer…. what about those who have left to marry and some of whom are willing to serve once more…. Women deacons……. and optional celibacy for those who are already ordained are so obvious solutions to vocations crisis and would mean equality for all. THe fact that we already have a married catholic priesthood which came and was accepted without any drama just further shows the double standards at play. I pray to the Holy Spirit to inspire the Irish bishops to think creatively and see possibilities in this crisis rather than ignoring the obvious.

  4. Fully agree with Colm’s comment.
    I’d go one step further. I’m perplexed as to why women still support the church until they are ordained and treated equally. Women have the power to implode the church if only they would all unite in solidarity. if only!!

  5. Brian Eyre says:

    34 years ago I got married and ever since I have continued to do pastoral work as I did when I was a celibate priest. In spite of being forgotten by the hierarchy I have never given up doing priestly work since getting married.
    Do I hear voices in the background asking: “but do you say Mass”? The answer is yes. I say Mass in my own home once a month and anyone who wishes can come to our house and take part in the Mass. I also say the Rosary in my home, read the Bible in my home, have prayer groups in my home so why not say Mass in my own home? I’m not using church property for for these events they all take place in my own home.
    So what will it mean if the discipline of celibacy is changed? It will mean that I and other married priests that I know who are also doing pastoral work, will be recognised as married priests and will have a free hand to do public ministry once again.
    It will be my desire to say public Mass for communities that haven’t got a resident priest. Here in Brazil there are many of these. There are places where the celibate priest can only get round to visiting these communities every 2 to 3 months. Yes, there are catholics who due to the shortage of priests are deprived of frequent access to the Eucharist. It’s not only though in Brazil where this problem arises. In the United States the number of priestless parishes rose from 571 in 1970 to 3,459 in 2016(source: National Catholic Reporter).
    This change will mean that the argument that a woman will turn a priest away from his vocation should not apply, at least not in my case. My wife has been my companion all these years, a wonderful mother to our two children. She is also an extraordinary pastoral worker doing great work with the poor. She has given me unconditional support all these years to carry on doing pastoral work. In many professions men and women handle both a job and a family,in many cases their jobs are very demanding. In most cases though they benefit from the companionship and support of their partner.
    If married priests are welcomed back I will continue to hold down my secular job, I am a teacher, that’s how I earn my bread. The experience of dividing my time between home, my wife and children, my secular job and my pastoral work is something I will not give up because this experience has been very positive for me, it has opened my eyes to so many things. I cannot imagine devoting my time only to church work.
    So how do I envisage the life of a married priest? I can see him as an animator of small communities, a network of communities. His pastoral work will entail a lot of house to house visitation in order to get to know people in their homes. He can set up small groups of people in an area who on a weekly or monthly basis will gather together to reflect on the Word of God and pray together. The agenda for their meetings should not be devoted only to prayer but to prayer and action. The group can try to bring about an improvement in the human conditions in the neighborhood. Working in partnership with the local civil authorities human development projects can be set up, this way the group will give witness to the importance of uniting spiritual faith and action. Every month the married priest can celebrate Mass for the group in one of their homes, which in the context of Rural Ireland is nothing new as the custom of celebrating Station Masses goes back to the Penal Laws when it was forbidden for priests to say Mass in public.
    If married priests once again become part of the Latin Rie, this will help to break down clericalism. The married priest will live in a house similar to other people and not in a rectory separated from everybody else. He will be seen going to work like most people, doing his shopping with his wife in the local supermarket. He won’t need to wear any distinctive clerical dress for having worked with groups in an area he will be recognised in that area as the married priest. People will get used to seeing him walk hand in hand with his wife and playing with his children and no eyebrows will be raised.
    It is possible that some Bishops will be a bit cautious about having married priests in their diocese. One of the problems or obstacles that they may put forward will be the financial support of the priest, his wife and children. This question should not arise if we accept that a married priest will support himself from his secular job, he will be financially independent. Like everybody else he will have to run his own home, pay his bills from his salary, look after the upkeep of his own home or rent a house.
    Like many other good dedicated laymen and women he will divide his time between his family, his job and pastoral work. It won’t be necessary for him to be in charge of the Parish church, this will remain in the hands of the Parish Priest who with his parish pastoral council and financial council will look after the running and maintenance of the parish church. The parish church will continue to be the “mother church”where baptisms, weddings, funerals, first Holy Communions, Confirmations take place, a place where the wider assemply gathers on Sundasys to praise and thank Our Lord, it will always have a very special place in the lives of catholics.
    By virtue of the sacrament of orders the married priest can celebrate mass in the communities, visit the sick and bring them the sacrament of the sick, hear peoples confessions.
    His relationship with the parish priest should be very positive and certainly there should be no hint of rivalry between both of them, his role as well as that of the parish priest is to serve people so if they can work together as a team for this end then all the better.
    Prayer will be very important in the life of the married priest. By prayer I don’t mean vocal prayer, although this too is very important, but prayer being understood as a daily encounter with Our Lord. This can take place in the silence of his sitting room, in his bedroom, on the veranda, under a tree in his garden or any place where he can step aside from his daily activities and just listen and talk to Our Lord. The habit of daily meditation can be so enriching to the life of the married priest. Basil Pennington O.C.S.O. has a wonderful little book on this entitled: “Daily we touch Him”, it is well worth reading for it points out that it is not possible to talk about Our Lord or to present Him to others if we are not on intimate terms with Him that is why this daily meeting with Our Lord is so important.
    If and when a change in the discipline of celibacy comes the walls of the Vatican won’t fall down. It’s good to remember that beginning with Saint Peter there never was a time in the church when there wasn’t married priests. The Holy Spirit is always with the church guiding it so that it can be a light and path for our modern times.
    Brian Eyre, Catholic married priest: Recife, Brazil

  6. I feel encouraged by the amount of debate that this topic has generated by Pope Francis and the ACPI. Is it possible that it’s the first time there has been real debate about the issue since Pope Paul VI.
    I’ve met a number of Anglican clergy who are part of the Catholic Church and they have been fully accepted by the people in the parishes they serve.
    Maybe more debate is needed like the brave discussions that took place in Kilmore a number of years ago.

  7. Chris McDonnell says:

    “Catholics in England seem to have no problem with married priests and Church authorities seem to have even less, especially as vocations begin to plummet. The word is that the transition of a few hundred priests from Anglicanism to Catholicism has been, as we say, seamless.”
    In those Parishes where married priests who were members of the Anglican communion, that is by and large true. Their arrival has however masked the issue for they have solved the immediate need.
    Our problem in England is having a meaningful discussion with our bishops in preparation for the inevitable decision of accepting voluntary celibacy.
    Or will we wait till parish after parish is a distant memory and the Eucharist is no longer food for the journey?
    The age profile of those currently in ministry is relentlessly advancing, the admission numbers of young men to seminary training, even if all were to be eventually ordained are not sufficient to replace them.
    The bishops are not listening to need in their stubborn attitude of refusal to dialogue with 99% of the church, the laity.
    I write as Secretary for the Movement for Married Clergy here in England and Wales. All our efforts for open, honest and sincere dialogue are rebuffed at every turn, letters ignored, press articles unanswered.
    A listening church? I question that.

  8. ‘Catholics in England seem to have no problem with married priests and Church authorities seem to have even less, especially as vocations begin to plummet.’
    A half-truth, Brendan: the vast majority of the laity indeed have no problem with married priests (at least, not with their being married), but the Church authorities certainly do! Granted, they have accepted ex-Anglican married priests into their dioceses. These are the priests who ‘came over’ following the arrangement secured by the late – and much missed – Basil Hume; those more recent arrivals, via the Ordinariate, are not so integrated into mainstream Church life. But these accessions were self-motivated, not solicited by our bishops. As to the idea of ordaining married viri probati, as one way of countering the disastrous decline in priest numbers, they won’t hear of it! One or two members of our current hierarchy have sought to have the issue discussed, but the response of the Bishops’ Conference as a whole has been negative. In particular, Cardinal Nichols has declared himself firmly against it. Attempts at dialogue by organisations such as ours, the Movement for Married Clergy, have been abruptly rebuffed. And, of course, our ‘authorities’ have made no attempt to gauge lay opinion, perhaps because they know the answer they would get – and that frightens them: they might actually have to stick their necks out! Indeed, they seem afraid despite Francis’ clear request for bold and imaginative proposals: if they won’t listen to the Pope, fat chance they’ll listen to their own laity! With their particular experience of one type of married priest, they could even offer themselves as relative ‘experts’. But no, they seem to prefer to devote all their efforts to rushing lemming-like down the ‘reorganisation’ path, closing churches and amalgamating parishes, apparently oblivious to the overwhelming reason they are forced to such draconian measures is…. the shortage of celibate priests.
    So yes, Brendan, the vast majority of English and Welsh Catholics do accept married priests – but the vital 0.0025%, the bishops, refuse to face the facts.

  9. Kevin Walters says:

    Brian Eyre @5
    “If and when a change in the discipline of celibacy comes the walls of the Vatican won’t fall down. It’s good to remember that beginning with Saint Peter there never was a time in the church when there wasn’t married priests. The Holy Spirit is always with the church guiding it so that it can be a light and path for our modern times”.————–
    At this moment in time especially in the West married priests/female priest will only be a sticking plaster over an oozing sore on the face of the Church as it will not stem the leaking pus of spiritual corruption as the body of the Church has been infected by the virus of moral cowardice; it is the common symptom of all intellectual appeasers. The diagnosis is irrefutable as it can be seen in the ongoing culture of cover up, blasphemy by the elite and the dishonesty of many of the laity with regard to Humanae Vitae, as this can be seen by all those who serve the Truth, (Jesus Christ). The remedy for this can be found within an inoculation that is a pathogen (Suffering) this pathos The Path/Way calls on all those who have taken on the mantle of Truth male or female to walk the Path ahead of us holding the bright lamp of Truth high so that those who follow may not lose their way.
    This was put to me on another site
    “When we live on the ‘path of Christ’ we are on the correct path. Some say it is hard and narrow. To me that path is neither hard nor narrow it is the easy path to live. It’s the only one that makes sense to me. It is a loving path, one that gives to and for others. Never taking from others. Like Pope Francis, that is how the church is supposed to be”.——————-
    The essence of my reply
    Yes The path (Way) is narrow (Straight/honest) and this honesty points/leads us all in the Way of TRUTH, (Jesus Christ), and is to be held high like a lamp over injustice (Dishonesty) by neither turning left nor right (Compromising oneself before the Truth) and in doing so confronts the reality of the situation, this is the Path/Way, this can be very difficult as often we have to confront evil actions (Collusion) in those we may care for and if they happen to be powerful can lead to a bloodbath.
    The serving of the Truth never takes from others as it endeavours to embrace/enhance them.
    “The Holy Spirit is always with the church guiding it so that it can be a light and path for our modern times”.
    The Holy Spirit prompts us to serve the Truth if these prompts are not acted upon there will be no light above the straight pathway of spiritual growth causing us to wander onto the broad highway of spiritual destruction and this destruction can be seen in the crumbling walls of the Vatican at this present moment in time.
    kevin your brother
    In Christ

  10. Ned Quinn says:

    And Nero fiddled while Rome was burning.

  11. I accept the point that possibly the Anglican clergy who became Roman Catholic may not have fully integrated into RC clerical life. Maybe that’s a good thing.
    I don’t for a second things that married priests will have all the loneliness and difficulties of ministry suddenly wiped away but I do believe that it would lead to compassionate and caring priests being able to share the burden of life with someone who is there for them.
    I read recently of a priest of the Boston Archdiocese who was ordained in the 1960’s, left the active ministry to get married and when his wife died he returned to active ministry.
    Surely there has to be a role for thinking outside the box on this issue, not simply because numbers of priests is declining but because we want our priests to experience human warmth and love in a compassionate and committed way.

  12. I fear that this all reads to me like a late 1800’s discussion on who should be allowed to light street gas lamps – when the existential challenge to the gaslighters’ corps was to prove that the world still needed gaslight!
    All seminaries in Ireland were full when the priestly calling was thought essential to the happiness and eternal salvation of humanity. Irish women were then so convinced of this – and of the social honour of having a priest in the family – that they cared not a whit about their own exclusion from the role. Young men could see heroism and purpose in the sacrifice attaching to priestly celibacy, and signed on for that as well.
    Now Ireland has been so thoroughly electrified by the secular Enlightenment – facilitated by a high-priestly Catholic embargo on all discussion – that the whole point of priesthood, and even of Christianity, is in question. The mass absence of younger generations from our services bears witness to this – as does the central focus of the ACP: the ageing and dwindling of the priestly corps and its growing inability to maintain the gaslighting infrastructure that remains.
    Does Ireland, or anywhere else, still need Catholicism, and a corps of Catholic priests of some kind – in the longer term? Only if we can answer an emphatic ‘yes’ to this – explaining why – is there much point to the secondary question of who should, or should not, be priests right now.
    So far the light-spreading shortcomings of the secular Enlightenment have had far too little attention here – as though the promised lands of ‘liberty, equality and fraternity’ were everywhere on show. Meanwhile their calling has all too obviously lost its zeitgeist – its driving raison d’être – for many priests in Ireland – as though they had privately concluded Christianity has nothing to offer in the causes of liberty, equality and fraternity. (If I am wrong about this, where can I go to hear passionate preaching to the contrary?)
    Catholic priesthood as we know it was shaped by fast-vanishing Christendom, with the role of secular clergy especially shaped by the church’s role in maintaining civil order for the benefit of a social elite. For me too there is now no reason to make prerequisites of either maleness or celibacy for Catholic Christian leadership – but could this site please give more time to discerning a reawakened Christianity that can meet the challenge of a hollow secularism? The latter has delivered far less light than it promised, so why are we all not discussing this right now at parish level, with our young people? For whose whistle are we waiting?

  13. Lloyd Allan MacPherson says:

    This is a real debate. I believe “ego” could be a contributing factor. Jesus and his dozen or so rebels have kept women out of the true leadership positions of our day.
    So if you were to ask how things usually go when this strategy is employed, you simply have to ask the living breathing examples of a matriarchal religious lineage, like the Hopi, what happens to the planet when women start to carry on and be responsible for the religious education and care for creation scenarios.
    It is the planet the Pope is raving for. I’d like to tell you that he is more interested in these matters than he is but the truth is, he’d be completely happy if 1.2bn people started to do what he was asking for and not completely writing off every small position he takes on clericalism.
    Clericalism has affected all of society – perhaps on the outside of religion even more so. The government has people ready and waiting to imprison you for tax offences but they are starting to destroy the Arctic climate libraries and research. Does that make sense to anyone here?
    Excuse me if I have a small vision of our Church without needing to jump around every small blip on the radar that everyone will give equal share to. The problems that society presents are a sequence of solutions now – tackling one first, and applying all the pressure and standards necessary will take 7 years. The governments have a 33 year projection. It is laughable when you think about it. They are telling us that the slight bump in the tides will be registered at 2050. The scenario painted for a runaway climate scenario which is on a 13 year term is catastrophic.
    What were we talking about again?

  14. The late Italian Cardinal Carlos Martini said the Church is 200 years behind the times and needs a radical transformation.I do not hold out much hope that there will be any great change any time soon.
    As for the role of women in the church it seems that although we are responsible for bringing the human race into the world we are not good enough to be ordained.
    When is the Pope going to move forward and recognise that what a potential priest needs is a Vocation and gender or celibacy should not matter.

  15. Lloyd Allan MacPherson says:

    This is a real debate? I believe “ego” could be a contributing factor.
    If we look at society as a whole and the influence of 1.2bn Catholics on its state, where does “being a Catholic” put us? Men should immediately be removed from positions of power in Catholicism for security reasons – if you are not able to prioritise Laudato si’ in every way possible, and provide proof of this, you should immediately step down.

  16. Chris McDonnell says:

    In a recent article in Commonweal magazine(https://www.commonwealmagazine.org
    Home > Letter from Rome Pope), Robert Mickens writes:
    The pope earlier this month acknowledged in an interview with the German weekly, Die Zeit, that too few men were entering seminaries—at least in the developed world. He said that was partly due to low birth rates.
    “And where there are no young men, there are no priests. That is a serious problem that we must tackle at the next Synod on youth,” he said.
    “Lots of young people come who do not have vocations and they will ruin the church,” the pope continued.
    “Selection is decisive, but so is people’s indignation,” Francis said.
    They asked why there is no priest in their parish to celebrate the Eucharist, which the pope said “weakens the church, since a church without the Eucharist has no strength.”
    Francis’ conclusion: “Priestly vocations are a problem, an enormous problem.”
    The problem has been growing, even in the decades immediately preceding the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965). But as Alberto Melloni noted in his recent article, it’s a problem to which men in the church “have closed their eyes, particularly those who stand beneath episcopal mitres.”
    That goes for quantity and quality.
    That comment is echo of Brendan Hoban’s book title ‘Who will break the bread for us?’
    There are solutions. When will we wake up and smell the coffee?

  17. Teresa Mee says:

    ‘The logic is irrefutable: no priest, no Mass.
    What about ‘no Eucharist’, Brendan, also ‘irrefutable’? Not all of us would agree with you there.

  18. Kevin Walters says:

    Sean O’Conaill @12
    “Does Ireland, or anywhere else, still need Catholicism, and a corps of Catholic priests of some kind – in the longer term? Only if we can answer an emphatic ‘yes’ to this – explaining why————–”
    Emphatically yes, as we need to see Unity of Purpose in a manifestation of Hope that reflects our Lord and master Jesus Christ before mankind.
    The clergy at this moment in time has many problems underlying them is lack of cohesion at the root of this is dishonesty and fear.
    At present, the Church as a worldly institution is applying cannon law to deal with its problems these laws are inconsistent with the Gospels.
    This needs to change now in the present moment so that the truths within the gospels, the Inviolate Word of God, is seen to be working.
    The means to do this has been given by our Lord Himself but it will take courage and honesty by the leadership of the Church to transform itself from a worldly structured organization to a spiritual one that serves the Truth.
    I do not think the church has “privately concluded Christianity has nothing to offer in the causes of liberty, equality and fraternity” rather it has ensnared itself in its own worldly structure.
    Rather than “hear passionate preaching to the contrary” we need to see a visual application of the Gospels actually working, then we would see the Church reflecting of the true face of Jesus Christ, a face that reflects Truth and humility before all those she is called to serve in love and compassion.
    Then this will not be a hope, but a reality
    Hope spring’s eternal or so the saying goes’
    Doe’s the church present a weed?
    When it should present a rose
    A light set on a hill
    All men shall know and see
    God’s Holy Will
    No word need be spoken all mankind shall see
    God’s lovers as they bend their knee
    Justice and Love reflected from above
    The missionary shall call
    We would have this for one and all
    A crystal (Rome) on a hill
    Manifesting our Father’s Holy Will.
    kevin your brother
    In Christ

  19. Eddie Finnegan says:

    Sean O’Conaill@12, did you really have to walk off with our old leather football when we were just settling in to our usual international kickabout before the sun goes down on us? Dammit, man, we’ve even let a few anglican soccer players join us from time to time, and one or two of us are talking about setting up a Ladies’ Side – of proven character, of course. But did you have to go so far as puncturing our oul ball? And who put you in charge of the whistle anyway?

  20. Mary Vallely says:

    Isn’t it about time we had a new ball anyway, Eddie @ 19? Sure the present one is so battered and worn that it’s no longer fit for purpose. As for Sean being in charge of the whistle, well since no one else is taking charge, he might as well. Vatican II gave him the right as much as anyone else to voice his thoughts which he is eminently more able to do than many of us.
    Thinking outside the box. Let’s do more of it. Do we need a new ball or do we need to think about a new game, more inclusive and much more dynamic?
    Do we at the base end ( for the present) of the pyramid not need to act as better Christ followers and let those at the top end take the lead from us?
    Why do we always end up constantly bemoaning the lack of male celibate vocations, and the iniquitous dismissal to even consider females, as it never seems to lead anywhere? Just gets us fired up with passion with nowhere to offload it constructively. Why not emphasise the greater need for laity to become involved in a fuller and deeper way in every aspect of church governance AND for ALL of us, ordained and non- ordained, to be more faithful to the Gospel?
    I like Sean 0’Conaill’s thinking as I think Eddie does too so would love to hear positive ideas from people on how we become a better, more faithful church, a vibrant, living, reflecting, inclusive, loving and attractive community of Christ followers.

    1. Maria Patalano says:

      Dear association of catholic priests…i have just read your great article…”no brainer”,,,i wanted to comment..but,,it didn’t allow me to comment so i’m writing to you. You couldn’t have written a better article!! Yes,,this is exactly how our dear pope francis works…he has to throw in a ”big debate” to bring those bishops to make a decision..and to not be afraid to bring back into our church,,,its’ original roots of optional celibacy. Yes,,if they give the okay…pope francis will absolutely have no problem bringing in ”optional celibacy” for all our priests. Amen!! many thanks and blessings to you!!!!! ?

  21. Eddie Finnegan says:

    Mary@20, as a born O’Neill I’m sure you’re an expert on the make-up and development of footballs, even of ironically figurative footballs. My ‘old leather football’@19, traditionally greasy and sodden with rain, was phased out in the early 1960s and replaced by the synthetic multi-panelled article – possibly under the influence of the Vatican Council. The new ball was much lighter, less penitential, but led to a proliferation of Irish head-the-balls who soon abolished ‘the Ban’. Forty years later, the 32-panel spheroid seems to have given way to a thermally bonded ball – just as Pope John Paul II was hanging up his boots. Who knows what this development will lead to? Anyway, that old leather ball is as extinct as Sean’s street gas lamps, but we’re still kicking it around of an evening. Yes, Mary, as I think you guessed, I borrowed the irony from a line of Brendan’s article and the whistle from Sean’s final question.

  22. Thomas O'Keefe says:

    I have read with great interest all the comments on this subject and as someone who has spent some time in the UK, I have to confess I am not entirely convinced that a married priesthood is the way to go. It is my unfortunate experience that some of the Anglicans who came over to Rome were single issue people. They simply could not tolerate working alongside women. The issue for me, is women priests. I can see no logical reason why a woman should not be ordained. I had the great fortune recently to come across a novel by a Cork based author. (The Rural Gentleman, Delia Maguire.) The hero is a priest from England, a fish out of water. He makes the spectacular point that if St Brigid, rather than St Patrick had been chosen as Ireland’s foremost patron saint, much of the pain and suffering that has arisen from a male dominated priesthood might have been avoided.

  23. I agree with Mary @20. When we consider a married priesthood we also need to imagine it as having married female clergy as well as married male clergy.

  24. Kevin Walters says:

    Mary Vallely@20
    “I like Sean 0’Conaill’s thinking as I think Eddie does too so would love to hear positive ideas from people on how we become a better, more faithful church, a vibrant, living, reflecting, inclusive, loving and attractive community of Christ followers”
    “Is a lamp brought in to be put under a basket or under a bed? Isn’t it to be put on a lampstand?
    We proclaim to have bought into Roman Catholicism the one true Church who’s teaching are still true to the moral law, we adherer to Church teachings don’t we?
    The Church has failed to confront the culture of cover up transparently, is this not a reflection of the whole body of the Church, one that is diseased by moral cowardice due to lack of faith.
    Yes we all need to see and be a more faithful body of church that is true to Gospel teachings, but if this cannot be seen by mankind in its visible head (Rome/Lamp) do we cover it with a blanket and pretend that it does not exist or do we trim the wick and clean the lamp holder.
    Our faith has been purchased by Jesus Christ and many down the ages have bought into it, in faithfulness to His teachings, often at great personal cost, passing on their inheritance to us, do we separate ourselves from this inheritance or do we fight to keep it by confront the hirelings who hide (Run away) behind cannon law, or do we build on that we have by remaining true to our heritage as authority comes with Truth and those who serve it.
    “A vibrant, living, reflecting, inclusive, loving and attractive community of Christ followers”
    This can only come about by serving the Truth and if it is not, it will eventually become (Remain) a replica of that we have at the moment, one without the lamp of Truth held high above it.
    At this moment in time the Church has been given by our Lord Himself the means to include all Baptised Catholics to participate in Holy Communion no matter what their state and if implemented would create a more humble faithful church, a vibrant, living, reflecting, inclusive, loving and attractive community of Christ followers.
    It must never be forgotten that many good men who have given all are now locked into the clerical system and it is the system that needs to change to one built on honesty rather than unaccountable obedience, we will always need Shepherds/ Shepherdesses (Spiritual leaders) We must build on what we have, negativity has no part to play if we truly seek the good of the Church.
    A possible way forward would be to set up pray vigils after mass to pray for the lamp of Truth to be held high above the elite in regards to the culture of cover up in Rome and in doing so create cohesion based on Truth in those who desire change, forming a base for further/future endeavors.
    kevin your brother
    In Christ

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