We Are Church Statement on Rethinking Priesthood

Press Release

30 June 2022
The feast day of “Peter and Paul”, 29 June, is traditionally the day when men, committed to life-long celibacy are ordained in the Catholic Church. But again this year many cathedrals will remain empty because there are no such candidates. Many Catholics have been calling for decades for the Church to welcome women and married people into the Ministerial Priesthood. Candidates are available.
The church reform movement “We are Church”, however, is now treading new ground: Many Christian congregations have long been developing new ways in pastoral care and liturgy and are coping wonderfully with a new understanding of themselves as a priestly people without ordained clergy. Pastoral care is obviously more alive and more capable of change than canon law; practice is overtaking theory.
The crisis of the Church is in many ways a crisis in the understanding of priesthood. In particular, the Catholic understanding of presbyterial ordination is in urgent need of revision: The idea that ordination would bring about a transformation of being in the candidate and make him a “representative of Christ”, even an “other Christ”, who as such is above all non-ordained persons, must be abandoned, as must the discriminatory focus on celibate men.
Instead, it must be recognised that Jesus did not ordain anyone at all and that the installation of priests (sacerdotes) in the Catholic Church was an invention of the 3rd century, as theological and church-historical research clearly proves today. In an effort to shape and live the Church as Jesus wished the community of his followers to be, ordination in the Catholic Church must therefore be completely rethought.
“We are Church” therefore advocates a recognition of the consecration of all the people of God  at Baptism and the introduction of the sacramental commissioning of chosen women and men into ministry and pastoral care.

Similar Posts


  1. Joe O'Leary says:

    We Are Church Statement on Rethinking Priesthood

    How can we talk about synodality when we have never given the laity a say in the organization of the liturgy? Have we ever asked our congregations what they want or encouraged them to articulate their deep spiritual needs?

    When ‘young people find the Mass boring’ became a common complaint, the clerical response was ‘Well, we don’t want them to be entertained.’

    But if we listened to them, we might have found that they were thirsty not for shallow entertainment, as we scornfully imagined, but for a meaningful and nourishing religious experience.

    For many young people now only the Tridentine Mass offers a space for contemplation.

    Before Vatican II the Mass was not the only fare offered in church. The evening devotions (Men’s Confraternity, Women’s Confraternity, May Devotions, Benediction, Eucharistic Adoration, the annual Missions) allowed people to enact their faith in a wide varieties of ways.

    One priest told me he met demands for Eucharistic Adoration with the suggestion that every hour of adoration would be matched by an hour of social action. Trouble is, this met a spiritual need with discouragement.

    Today we could provide Matins and Vespers, or ask the many pious lecturers in our universities to give spiritual talks, or arrange ecumenical events, or set up scriptural study and spiritual discussion and prayer groups.

    When older Catholics complained that sermons no longer offered instruction on the Ten Commandments or indeed any catechesis at all, we scoffed, claiming our ill-prepared sermons were letting the Scriptures be heard in all their power as urged by Vatican II.

    When parents said they took their kids to Mass as a discipline but that the kids were getting ‘zilch’ out of it, did we make any effort to revive the vibrant children’s Masses of the preconciliar days?

    One reason for the extreme routinization of the Mass is a shameful one: Mass Stipends. That was noted by a bishop in 1980. If the same holds today, then our clerical somnambulism has become sepulchral.

    Was any input or feedback invited from the laity about the current horrendous English translations?

    I may be out of touch, imagining a totally paralyzed clericalist church.

  2. Michael J. says:

    We Are Church Statement on Rethinking Priesthood

    Joe O’Leary, far from being out of touch, as you fear, you, like a prophet, say it as it is!

  3. Michael J. says:

    We Are Church Statement on Rethinking Priesthood

    Pope Francis has addressed some of the problems raised here in his Apostolic Letter to the people of God, entitled “Desiderio Desideravi”. I think it’s powerful, but it’s a pity it comes out in the tenth year of his pontificate rather than much earlier, considering how vital the subject is, and I suppose as is inevitable in such a document, it is short on specifics. How many more decades must we wait for improvements or breakthroughs, while we are stuck with the English translation we have now?

Join the Discussion

Keep the following in mind when writing a comment

  • Your comment must include your full name, and email. (email will not be published). You may be contacted by email, and it is possible you might be requested to supply your postal address to verify your identity.
  • Be respectful. Do not attack the writer. Take on the idea, not the messenger. Comments containing vulgarities, personalised insults, slanders or accusations shall be deleted.
  • Keep to the point. Deliberate digressions don't aid the discussion.
  • Including multiple links or coding in your comment will increase the chances of it being automati cally marked as spam.
  • Posts that are merely links to other sites or lengthy quotes may not be published.
  • Brevity. Like homilies keep you comments as short as possible; continued repetitions of a point over various threads will not be published.
  • The decision to publish or not publish a comment is made by the site editor. It will not be possible to reply individually to those whose comments are not published.