Irish Catholic: Debate on vocations

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Letter to Editor by Joe Mulvaney


Your editorial (30th October 2014 ) stated that there has been a lacklustre approach to promoting priestly vocations in recent years and that sleepy  parishioners have not encouraged vocations.

I wish to state that Catholic parents have been rudely awakened in recent decades and are increasingly aware of  the troubled realities within priesthood . Catholic parents value the positive ministry of happy priests. However, they are rightly reluctant to encourage their sons to submit to the cruel abuse of enforced celibacy, absolute obedience to   an episcopal monarch and the increasingly unfair burdens now being loaded on a diminishing number of elderly priests within a crisis situation which the bishops seem unable to confront in a realistic fashion after listening to the honest common sense of the People of God. Responsible Catholic parents today can see behind the pious sugar talk about vocations and cannot, in good conscience, encourage their sons into the awful minefield of enforced celibacy within an outdated monarchy and patriarchal caste which excludes women and refuses to really share power with all the baptized.  The glaring absence of women from ministry, leadership, governance and teaching within our Catholic Church is an injustice and loss which deeply troubles healthy Catholic lay people and parents who are opposed to any form of sexism and medieval  mindsets. Catholic people are sickened by the hypocrisy of praying for restricted vocations when they know there are plenty of good men and women- whether married or single- with the talents plus vocation to celebrate the presence of the Risen Christ within people, families and parishes.  Catholic people are powerless and resentful that a small “ old boys club “within our Catholic Church continues to deny Eucharist plus the full riches of priestly ministry to priestless parishes worldwide because of their outdated insistence on enforced celibacy and men only. It is perfectly understandable that such Catholic parents are very reluctant to encourage their sons into such a  male clerical system which appears totally irreformable within the short to medium term.

The other hugely important component is the silence of the priests. They are not free to speak out their honest feelings about the realities of their lives and the low morale in many cases. I would assert that those good men are also wide awake like the Catholic parents as listed above and cannot, in good conscience encourage fellow men into a ministry that needs urgent and massive reform, renewal and restructuring.

I continue to hope and pray that Pope Francis guided by the Holy Spirit of Truth and the Common Sense of the People of God will be empowered to lead us all to genuine reform and renewal of ministry and governance within our Catholic Church.

I am,

Yours sincerely,

Joe Mulvaney,


Dublin 16.