The Catholic Church should accept married men to priestly ordination, in an effort to prevent the extinction of the priests in Ireland, a celebrity called enter a clergyman, in the midst of warnings about the rising rates of depression, isolation and suicide among the aging priesthood.
Father Brendan Hoban, a co-founder of the Association of Catholic Priests (ACP), said urgent action was needed to counter the “crisis of vocations”. Also, why married men, those who leave the priesthood – sometimes, in order to marry should be invited back, and to women to priestly ordination as a deacon, he told the Guardian.
Married priests would be a “massive change,” he admitted. But he added: “At the end of the day, without a priest there is no mass and without mass there is no Church. Thus, we see in Ireland a large Eucharistic Hunger in a few years.”
The number of priest in Ireland fell by almost 17% in the 10 years to 2014, from 3,141 to 2,627, according to the Church, in which the most recent statistics. About a quarter of the 2014 figure was probably already retired, and “the vast majority of those who are still in the priesthood in their 60s and 70s – or even 80s,” says Hoban.
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A survey established by the ACP in 2012, almost nine in 10 Irish Catholics wanted to be allowed the priests to marry. “The situation is imploding, because priests are-as the body’s getting older and there are very few priests come after us. So people see this big dilemma,” said Hoban.
Pope Francis – who is visiting Ireland in 2018 – is allegedly keen to consider the possibility of married priests, at its next Synod of bishops. However, the Vatican in October, announced that his topic would be, young people and their appeal, after the question of celibacy was voted down by the body that decides the Synod are on the agenda.
In a speech in February to the ACP annual General meeting, Hoban warned that the priesthood in Ireland was a “lost tribe; we have come to the end of a long line”.
When he was ordained in the 1970s, said he to the Assembly, “pastor”, took for granted that you are admired, respected and supported by their community members. Their words were infallible, their decisions we regret, is not in question … Well, often, patronized, insulted, offended, disrespected, ignored, and hated.”
At best, he added, “we are now a little more than a ceremonial presence on the side line of life”.
He said to the priests, the “can’ T wait to get off the stage” through the exchange were manipulated in staying on beyond the age of 75 due to a lack of younger clergy.
“We are expecting to work longer, harder … the effect of The increased and ever-increasing work load, as we transform ourselves in the sacrament of the vending machines, we find the pastoral work is becoming less and less satisfied.”
He continued: “With the implosion of our Church, the restlessness and discomfort, and the isolation of our lives, with the regret and ambivalence that disturb our waking hours and our unique lifestyle, we are prone to depression in one or the other of its malignant manifestations.”
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He said before the conference, suicide was increased among the priests in Ireland but an interview with the Guardian, he acknowledged that there is no solid data available.
“A lot of it is hidden. But certainly in the past few years, there have been five suicides. We have no doubt that it is growing, and there is a whole subculture of depression, isolation and loneliness, which the priest is now experiencing lies in the parishes, and that we ignore at our own risk,” he said.
His said that his speech had triggered a great reaction from the priests, and the public, but a “very subdued” response from the bishops, whom he accused of ignoring at best the problem and to the clergy in the worst case, bullying in work longer and harder.
Since the ACP was founded, six years ago, they had tried to be “realistic and respectful engagement with [the bishops], to discuss the problems that we believe are really essential for the future of the Catholic Church”. The ACP has more than 1,100 members – more than a third of the priests in Ireland.
He says meeting with the bishops had been friendly. But he added: “you don’t seem to want to talk to us very much more. We are very disappointed that they have taken on Board what we say. They are effectively in denial about the problems of the Catholic Church in Ireland.”
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Hoban acknowledged that the Church had lost respect in society “, because of what has happened, particularly in relation to the child sexual abuse scandals and the way they were treated – denial, lack of transparency and openness”.
Individual priests and some bishops gone and continue to have good relationships with their community members, but “institutional authority and respect. It was a great revolution, a huge drop in the status of the Church.”
The ACP was not a trade Union, a thorn in the side of the Church, Hoban said. “We are of the faithful to the Church, loyalty to Rome and loyalty to our beliefs, but we also feel a huge responsibility to say what we think, what needs to be said on this important point.”
In response to a request for comment, the Irish Catholics bishops ‘ conference a letter from Raymond Browne, Bishop of Kerry, routed, Hoban is in October, which said: “to the life of The current difficult situation for the future and the mission of the Church in this country requires that we all work together.”
He added: “Overall, are the bishops obliged to work with the priests, at every level, to ensure that we are all from the bottom of my heart to proclaim the gospel and serve the people of God.”