A Co Kildare Parish Priest is supporting calls for female priests in the Catholic Church.

Sallins based Fr Kevin Walsh is concerned that there are now no priests under 40- years-old serving in the Kildare Leighlin dioceses.

He is agreeing with calls from 12 Irish priests urging talks on the position women are given in the Catholic Church.

Fr Walsh said:"People in Co Kildare have a very strong faith, but as a body we are getting old and scarce. Women priests should be up for discussion.  If we did not have women in the Church, we would have very little involved."

In a statement, the priests, including a number of members of the Association of Catholic Priests such as Fr Tony Flannery, said they believed the example given by the Church in discriminating against women “encourages and reinforces abuse and violence against women in many cultures and societies”.

“In the Catholic Church women, despite being equal to men by virtue of their Baptism, are excluded from all positions of decision making, and from ordained ministry,” the priests said.

They said that, in 1994, Pope John Paul II had declared that the exclusion of women from priesthood could not even be discussed in the Church and that had been reaffirmed “and even strengthened” by Pope Benedict by insisting it was definitive “and that all Catholics were required to give assent to this view”.

“Pope Francis has said that Pope John Paul II had reflected at length on this matter, had declared that women could never be priests and that, therefore, no further discussion on the ordination of women to ministry is possible,” the priests said.

The 12 signatories said they believe the situation is very damaging as it alienates both women and men from the Church “because they are scandalised by the unwillingness of Church leaders to open the debate ”.

Louise McCarthy; Kildare Now; 3 November 2015