Married priests no longer in public ministry

The ACP is compiling a database of married priests no longer in public ministry who would consider a return to ministry if the possibility arose.
Please register your interest by contacting
Liamy Mac Nally,
ACP Admin Secretary,

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  1. I would suggest a change to made to the compilation of the data base.
    Could the database be for all ordained priests who are no longer public ministry.
    e.g. priests who left but didn’t get married, widowed priests, priests in civil partnerships, priests in same-sex marriages, etc?
    I just think that the definition of married priests is too narrow.

  2. Good point Tony, @1
    I’ve came across a number of cases where priests who left to get married retuned to ministry when their wife died.
    I’m not too sure how some of the other cases that you highlighted might work.
    I think it would be good work to compile a list all the same.

  3. Soline Humbert says:

    Tony@1,how can this definition be anything but extremely narrow,and sexist,if it continues to exclude women?

  4. And a priest can return when his wife dies?. I know of two men in this position , one man with five children and the other who was going to join the priesthood but opted to marry instead. When his wife died he then fulfilled his ambition to become a priest. Both men are outstanding priests in spite of being “contaminated by a woman”.

  5. Soline @3 I imagine the purpose of this list is to gather people who have already received the sacrament of ordination and have left formal public ministry.
    There is nothing to stop another list being created for those who wish to be ordained but have not yet been ordained.

  6. I read a great piece in the Irish Times today about priests coming in from Romania to help Irish dioceses.
    The bishop from Romania quoted in the article said there were lots of vocations in Romania.
    I wonder why Ireland can’t supply many vocations to priesthood/Religious Life?

  7. Frank, I expect the answer is similar to the greater level of vocations we see in other underdeveloped and poorer parts of the world — a vocation is a certain route out of poverty. Fr.Donald Cozzens explains in his wonderful book, “The Changing Face of the Priesthood” how that was an important factor in the Church in America too in the early part of the last century.

  8. Brian Eyre says:

    What do we mean by public ministry? Do we mean religious acts that take place in a church such as saying Mass, baptising babies, presiding over weddings?
    But what about married priests who are doing pastoral work with people in their homes, where people live? Can we not call this public ministry? What about the married priests who are working with small basic christian communities, reflecting with them on the Word of God and taking action on different human social problems? Can we not call this public ministry or is public ministry only to be understood as some religious ceremony that takes place in a church?
    If the possibility arose for married priests to return to ministry what would this mean?

  9. Soline Humbert says:

    Thank you Tony @5.
    I believe that,unless the ACP deals with the Elephant in the Church,women,the quick fix of patriarchal solutions to a patriarchal crisis will resolve nothing.The proposed list struck me as such.

  10. Martin Murray says:

    Great idea. Something the bishops should be doing and then applying to Rome for the go ahead to get them back into ministy. I suspect that’s the kind of outside the box thinking Pope Francis is waiting for. But full marks again to the ACP for showing the way.

  11. Soline Humbert says:

    Thank you Brian @8 for raising those questions which I believe are essential.Otherwise it’s just more man power to fill in gaps in a clericalist model of church….patching up the old coat which is beyond patching….

  12. Phil Greene says:

    To Soline @ 9 and all who feel the same..
    Why do we have to leave it to men to fix this problem , without women actively taking a stance… or in the absence of no other alternative (thinking women working during wars) nothing will change… we are all responsible/accountable for this situation being allowed to continue.. they can no longer kill us en masse if we disobey the man-made laws!!
    Priests (not all) can disown their own children rather than
    actively challenge the Church’s teaching on celibacy as a group.. so let’s not ask them to act on our behalf alone .. we are also accountable..

  13. A very good idea! I presume entry on to your database is open to priests outside Ireland. Maybe it would help to be explicit about this. We at the Movement for Married Clergy will highlight your initiative on our website and encourage priests to register with you.

  14. Soline Humbert says:

    Thank you Phil@12,
    I do not know whether you are aware that
    many of us,women, have taken an active stance on these issues,in some cases publicly,and disobeyed man made laws,and suffered the penalties.So it is not a case of
    “asking priests to act on our behalf alone”.But we certainly need more women,and men,to have the discernment and courage to follow where the Spirit leads…

  15. Lee Cahill says:

    Soline (3,9,11). Soline, have you considered moving towards establishing such as, e.g., “Association of Catholic Women of Ireland”? I would support you. However, I do appreciate that ACP would probably feel the same…. certainly insofar as your dreams and ideals for women integrated fully into the many dimensions of Church living.
    You hint at a truth when you desire ACP to move more in that direction just mentioned.
    But, as a priest stated a couple of years ago, at a diocesan meeting: “Every priest among us is faced with the possibility of a phone call that will destroy him” (E.g. an allegation of child sexual abuse….be it true, or, more especially, IF IT IS FALSE). As that priest’s statement implies, EVERY PRIEST IS VULNERABLE TO SUCH A PHONE CALL. Thanks to ACP, there is now a critically needed harbour of recourse in this context.
    Of course, one of the priorities – as stated when ACP was being formed – has been a revival of the spirit and aims of Vatican II. That covers much….far more than ACP, by itself, could ever initiate. Hence, a healthy branching out, such as seen in ACI.
    I have been privileged to have served Christ and Church in Liberia. My appreciation (and conviction) of woman’s role in the People of God, have been fostered by the inspiration of women leaders in that country…the first African woman to chair UN security council; the first elected president in Africa (the present incumbent)…who is also a Nobel Peace Prize winner (shared with another Liberian woman); the first woman president of an African University; the finest Parish Council Chairpersons I have known; wives and mothers who have demonstrated awesome courage, loyalty, faith in one of the cruellest political conflicts in modern times.
    Please, let us not have extreme expectations of “finished products” by ACP. We, priests, are fortunate to have a forum/association, where, without silly censorship, we can share the urgent issues of the Church in Ireland in our time. It is wonderful to be part of the much wider expressions of the face of Christ in our times. Collaboration – excepting of course – our struggling episcopal leadership – is healthily broad.
    Lee Cahill SMA

  16. Phil Greene says:

    Hi Soline,
    I have read in the newspapers of letters being sent to popes (and bravely signed ) which were acknowledged and after that who knows what happened to them.. I have read many sad stories on-line from women about their experiences with some priests plus their superiors and indeed the total lack of support given to women by the establishment as they cut off communication and isolate them .. I of course know about how women were so shamefully treated in the past and what action was necessary to get the attention of the powers-that-be.. But in the present, beyond asking for women deacons and priests, and ASKING for more recognition I really don’t know what strides women are making in our Church.
    If I am unaware then the majority of the women in Ireland and probably further afield are also unaware and that is, I feel, a real problem.
    We know that we all need little “victories” along the way and knowledge of same or people (in this case women ) become discouraged and indeed we see this reflected in many conversations here ,about how we will never see changes in our lifetimes!
    The ACP have thankfully seen some fruit from their endeavours, and are in a position to publicise this.. and they are growing stronger as they help each other and allow others to voice their opinions.. this association has my deepest respect in this regard.
    So where is the Spirit leading us..? Is Lee Cahill’s suggestion a way forward for women? Personally my hope is that we can all continue to work together, both genders.. we appear to have quite a few organisations, both lay and religious that could (do?) come together and discuss this at length and educate the rest of us on what is going on and how we can make a greater impact, there are many men on this site and other sites that publicly endorse greater roles for women in the CC..
    Perhaps Parish Priests and/or Councils can help facilitate such educational meetings at a local level… maybe the ACP has some ideas on the matter, or indeed feel that this might distract too much from their main objectives but have some alternative ideas that might help..?
    The above initiative is a great idea gentlemen , I must admit to being very curious as to what you will do with such a database..!!

  17. Soline Humbert says:

    Thank you Lee@15.
    In the early 90s I cofounded,with a priest, a movement to open all ministries to women(BASIC,Brothers And Sisters in Christ),which merged with We Are Church Ireland in 2012.BASIC is featured in the Veritas Leaving Certificate textbook on Religion and Gender(2006)At this stage of my life I do not feel called to start an Association of Catholic Women….and I am not sure there is a desire for such…many women of my generation and younger are alienated and have given up on the institutional church…
    I regret I strayed again on the ACP website and commented.I do realise clearly I don’t belong here.It was a mistake!

  18. Mary Vallely says:

    Thanks, Lee@15. You can see the need for a support group for priests which is very much at the heart of the ACP but also the great need for a similar lay association which is what the ACI does so well. I wish more of the regulars who post here would comment on the ACI page from time to time. I do wonder if we lay people are Infected a bit with that insidious disease called clericalism in that we are more inclined to post on the ACP page than on the ACI website.
    Phil, a good point and Soline answers it well. Personally I believe that women, especially older women ( alas) have to accept some of the blame here in deferring too much to the ordained priesthood and we are notoriously bad for not supporting our own sex. We need to educate ourselves more and to become more confident in speaking out, demanding a hearing rather than waiting patiently for an invitation to speak. Hopefully new generations of young women will take over that mantle worn with great grace and tremendous courage by Soline and others.
    One of the many blessings we receive from these online discussion groups is the knowledge that we are not alone in our thinking and it is especially heartening to read such positive postings from priests like Lee. It’s an online church, ACP/ACI. Keeps some of us from heading over the cliffs into no-church-land. To know that one is not alone is a tonic to the soul. My heart goes out to the many clerics who take such foolish risks for some sort of happiness simply because they are suffering from that sense of loneliness and isolation and who do feel so alone. May they feel the loving presence of God especially at those times of despair.
    Another topic for another day.

  19. Con Devree says:

    New priests are emerging in the first world.
    The dioceses and religious orders being gifted with new vocations have a tendency to be characterised by efforts at close adherence to Church teaching.
    Paddy Ferry, if your theory were true, a greater number of priests would have been ordained this year in Buenos Aires than in New York. The former is by far the most disadvantaged economically and in terms of numbers has some multiple of the Catholics in New York.
    One finds instead that the number of ordinations New York this year is double that of Buenos Aires.

  20. With the rise in the number of married deacons I was wondering if it’s possible for former priests to exercise a diaconal role within the Church?
    Those who are ordained have given many years of service and could bring a lot to the life of the church.
    I see where 14 have began their studies for the diocesan priesthood in Ireland. Many are beginning a preparatory year. I believe this to be a healthy sign.

  21. Lloyd Allan MacPherson says:

    It’s by no error that you are here Soline – the balance you bring to the discussion is needed and the website is less welcoming without your voice.
    Francis sees a greater role for women in the Church. If we are to believe him as to where the Church is headed (what it will truly mean to be a Catholic), you have to believe that women can hold an equal position in all this. Our Church is being reinvented somewhat and from what I can see from the GCCM’s animator program, women from far and wide are stepping up where men are not as interested.
    There is an opportunity to create something new and with it, the assurance that both sexes will be equally regarded. It all depends on what you think is central to Catholic teaching.

  22. Augustine nunna says:

    I really apreciate the idea that you are saying. I would be happy if you can extend this support to all the priests who are in the world at large. Thank you.

  23. Soline Humbert says:

    Thank you Lloyd @21
    “It all depends on what you think is central to Catholic teaching”.I have shared some of what I have come to believe in relation to women and our patriarchal church structures .It didn’t meet with much of a response from the 1000 priests members of the ACP.In fact there was a rather deafening silence. Nothing from any priest based in Ireland…Too radical for the ACP membership?

  24. Lloyd Allan MacPherson says:

    Soline @ 23, I’m a firm believer that men, who have not experienced the joy of having a daughter, can not ever make a decision on the inclusiveness of women. It is a flawed process if they are given that decision to make.
    Too controversial – no, I’m feeling that that priests like to sit idly on the sidelines and watch the Spirit work through us without intervening. It is a comfortable position but there comes a time when those priests/bishops will be asked to draw a line in the sand and it is perhaps up to us to make sure their positions are unearthed through different means. I’m attempting this on September 23.
    Francis doesn’t see women in priest’s roles. Is that the end of the Church – not at all. It just means that women will hopefully have a chance to occupy a space where there was none previously and I’m experiencing it first hand in the circles where I travel. Without women’s participation, my environment would be in deep trouble right now because men, for the most part, are not feeling the same calling. When I compare this space with that of the duty of administering sacraments, there is no question that Pope Francis has placed the care for creation and the poor as central to our being.
    As Catholics, all sacraments rely on our ability to commit to this central omega point first and foremost. If there is no commitment, we can administer all we want and celebrate non-stop but it is done in vain.
    Also, a nun presided over a Catholic wedding in Canada in August of this year in a place where there is a shortage of priests. The request came from her bishop and was approved by the Vatican. This creates a precedent that can and should be acted upon.

  25. Soline Humbert says:

    Thank you Lloyd @24.
    What exactly are you going to attempt on September 23rd?

  26. Soline, It`s something to do with unearthing bishops who are sitting conmfortably on the sidelines while drawing lines in the sand and not intervening with the Spirit who is watching us.

  27. Lloyd Allan MacPherson says:

    The attempt is the distribution of a petition among bishops in my local area – as a member of the GCCM’s Animators Program, I was asked to create an activity during the Season of Creation (Sept.1 – Oct.4). I’m combining a petition with a fund raising proposal that will provide the framework for parish/school/community building solar cooperative development over 12 months using tried and tested crowd finding/funding tools with a general focus on a digitally distributed (carbon-free) donor rewards system.
    It is my attempt at bringing Laudato si’ to the masses since our good friends at, the now voice of reason among the Catholic masses, are telling us that we essentially have three years to come up with a plan that is going to inspire a generation. This is my plan and I’m seeking test locations. Once tested, the idea is that it runs straight for 7 years.
    It won’t have any traction though if test locations do not emerge – I’m hoping three provinces that I represent in the Maritimes will sign on for the one year test. I’m also extending a seat at my table to the ACP/ACI network. I’m preparing a short document for Colm Hogan at Trócaire as we speak.
    The problem I’m experiencing right now is that certain age demographics can’t be convinced they are inextricably linked to the structural violence in the world simply based on their geographic location (Canada and Ireland being two great examples).

  28. Soline Humbert says:

    @27 Thank you Lloyd for the information.I looked up .
    Well done on your initiative and blessings on the work.
    May we all heed the voice of the Spirit calling us to urgent action!

  29. Lloyd Allan MacPherson says:

    Or yes, what MJT has so eloquently expressed at 26.

  30. Lloyd Allan MacPherson@29, I was trying to summarise for Soline what you had written, as she appeared not to comprehend it. If I got it wrong, I`m sure it`s my fault.

  31. Lloyd Allan MacPherson says:

    It’s you I have to thank, Soline – I can relate to women who feel slighted by Canon #1024 and it is this injustice that pushes me forward despite everyone in my circle telling me it is done in vain. It is very difficult to find support these days even within groups who claim to be supportive-based. If I were a priest right now, I’d be on a fast outside my bishop’s office calling for an end to this Canon and asking for others to join me.
    I’m one of very few Catholic artists/activists in North America concentrating on work within digital mediums (photo/video/web/print graphic/social) who were openly expressing a need for a document like Laudato si’ (prior to Francis’s tenure) from our Church. To round out my portfolio, I recently included a fundraising success as I was one of a team of 4 people who raised $40K last year to save a Redemptorist-inspired Stone Church from demolition in my local area.
    I started working on the framework of this proposal after I sent the Global Catholic Climate Movement to Assisi, Italy with all the print/graphic/social media they would need for the trip (t-shirts and banners included). This proves that people can come together from all walks and locations in the digital age and create the change they would like to see if properly assembled. The proposal assembles people first and foremost – women and men in equal numbers.
    Overview/animator positions, as we are seeing with the Global Catholic Climate Movement, have been flooded with women all over the world and if we believe that “care for creation and the poor” is now central to Catholic teaching, the role that lay women will play is immense. It is by no coincidence that Nature has a Mother. My proposal is not about hugging trees. It is about tweaking Catholic infrastructure to include a special projects allocation of funds which goes directly to an investment in our children’s futures. Would that spur on vocations and involvement from young people? It certainly doesn’t support positions of authority from celibate, childless men. For every parish that exists, based on the proposal, a full time administrator would be created.
    The good news is that the investment in solar cooperatives creates a continual endowment payout over 25-30 years which can in turn be redirected to the care of creation and the poor. Technology will not ever be our saviour – coming together to support good ideas will and always has been.
    I’m proud to say that this work has been inspired by the Pfarrer Initiative, the AUSCP and most recently the ACP/ACI, not to mention the regular contributors to the websites. Whether the membership of these listed organisations is ready to embrace the inverted pyramid structure in the Church (that I called for in April of 2015 which was delivered by Pope Francis in October of 2015 – Sean O’Conaill as my witness) remains to be seen. Despite this, I’m eternally optimistic.
    I’ll make sure that access to the proposal will be provided to one and all on September 23.

  32. Lloyd Allan MacPherson says:

    Well MJT, being I don’t know you from Adam, I’ll serve you with 2 apologies:
    I’m sorry if I took your post @ 26 as sarcasm – I truly believe that it is the lowest form of communication on this planet yet despite this, I don’t ever hesitate for a minute to reciprocate when it presents itself. My bad.
    If you were looking to summarise something for Soline, I’m sorry but perhaps you don’t frequent this site enough to know that she is more than capable of holding her own in a discussion and for any lack of understanding she may encounter, she is more than capable of clarifying on her own volition. Chivalry need not exist on this website – the women here are fighting for something we’ll never understand.

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