Letter to Irish Times
The newly ordained Bishop of Elphin Dr. Kevin Doran asked parishioners last Sunday to find men-not women of course-for the priesthood. ( I.T. July 14th ) Your same issue also reported Vatican denials that Pope Francis spoke about finding a solution to priestly celibacy and clerical sex abuse.
Catholic parents do value the positive contributions of so many good priests in our parishes. However, on the negative side, they are increasingly reluctant to encourage their sons to submit to the cruel abuse of enforced celibacy, absolute obedience to an episcopal patriarch and the increasingly unfair burdens now being loaded on a diminishing number of priests in a crisis which the bishops refuse to confront in a realistic and courageous fashion. Why cannot the bishops seek out and listen to the honest sense of the people ? Why cannot Pope Francis and the bishops be in the flesh for real with us in the 21st century and realise that ministry, leadership and governance within our Catholic Church must be open to women and men without outdated restrictions.
Most Catholics today are very aware of the bad news in our Catholic Church over the past decades. They can see behind the pious sales talk about vocations and cannot, in conscience, encourage their sons into the minefield of enforced celibacy within a clerical caste which excludes women and refuses to share power. I think Catholic people want a robust dialogue and analysis about all aspects of the Catholic ethos which has led to so much ongoing abuse of power and sex by laymen in family homes and elsewhere by clerics. The glaring absence of women in leadership, ministry and governance is clearly part of the problem. Catholic people today are sickened by the hypocrisy of praying for restricted vocations when they sense that there are plenty of good men and women- whether married or single- with the talents plus vocation to provide word, eucharist, ministry and leadership within communities worldwide. Catholic people are angered that a small “old boys club “ within the Catholic Church continues to deny the full riches of priestly ministry to parish communities worldwide because of their outdated insistence on enforced celibacy and men only.
I continue to hope and pray that Pope Francis- against all the odds- will somehow tune in to the signs of the times and be empowered to lead us all to genuine reform and renewal.