With diocesan changes taking place at present and priests being allocated
extra responsibilities for neighbouring parishes, the Association of
Catholic Priests (ACP) wishes to add its voice to the growing demand in the
Roman Catholic Church for a realistic and planned response to the present
crisis in vocations.
We believe that, in the resolution of the problem of fewer and older priests
in the developed world, three elements are coming together to usher in
significant change in our response to the crisis: need, expectation and
(i) The need is obvious. It is clear in the statistics now available (not
least on the Irish Bishops’ own web-site) and in the lived experience at
parish level. For instance, it is mathematically indisputable that, in ten
to fifteen years, the steep decline in the number of priests will provoke a
Eucharistic famine in Ireland.
(ii) Expectation of change in the re-imaging of priesthood, not least in the
celibacy requirement, is growing. Pope Francis has signalled the possibility
of change in his recent interview with Brazilian Bishop Erwin Kräutler and
the growing expectation is that the Brazilian bishops will adopt the Pope’s
suggestion of making a direct approach to Rome as a bishops’ conference.
Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican Secretary of State, on a number of
occasions has pointedly indicated that celibacy is not a church dogma and
it can be discussed because it is a church tradition.
(iii) The promise is contained in the contribution almost 400 married
Catholic priests (most of whom have converted from Anglicanism) are already
making to the Catholic Church in England.
In a meeting with the Irish bishops on June 4 last, the ACP suggested that,
as a matter of urgency, the Irish Church should propose the following to
(i) Ordain suitable married men;
(ii) Invite priests who left the active ministry to get married to return to
(iii) Ordain women to the Permanent Diaconate.
(For our statement of 06 July, 2014 see this link
While the ACP recognise that this is an issue for the worldwide Catholic
Church, we appeal to the Irish Bishops to add their voice to the growing
chorus now accepting the need for a married as well as a celibate priesthood
in our Church.
Gerard Alwill 087 2305557 / 071 9648025
Seamus Ahearne 0876782746 / 018343722
Brendan Hoban 086 6065055 / 096 31288
Gerry O¹Connor 087 2320295 / 01 623 3813
Sean McDonagh 087 2367612 / 0469098229