Foreign priests will save the Catholic Church in Ireland with the help of the laity, according to the Bishop of Cork and Ross.
Bishop John Buckley told the Irish Examiner that Polish priests are currently making a big difference in his diocese and will have a major role to play in the future.
He said that the increasing number of foreign priests will ensure that Irish Catholics will be able to attend a full Mass in 15 or 20 years time.
The paper says the Bishop made his remarks after reports emerged that proposals outlining how lay people could hold Communion services are being circulated amongst bishops ahead of an October gathering.
The report says that the plans are a direct response to the ageing of priests and the vocations crisis.
Bishop Buckley said, “There was a trend in the past that other countries came to Ireland looking for priests for the Far East, South America and Africa.
“A shortage of priests will be of concern in the years ahead but at the moment we have developed pastoral areas and parish councils which mean that parishes are working together to ensure that there is a priest for Mass when the local priest is on holidays, etc.”
The diocese of Cork and Ross currently has three Polish priests and an Indian priest serving parishes.
Speaking to the paper, Polish priest Fr Kazimierz Nawalaniec - or Fr Kaz as he is known - said he ‘feels great’ ministering in the Church of the Assumption in Ballyphehane.
He said, “The people in Ballyphehane are very good to me and I am very busy with my work. I would say they have embraced me and for any other priests looking to come to Ireland I would say that you will be very busy, having more than enough to occupy your time.
“If the Catholic hierarchy is serious about encouraging more foreign priests to move here, they should establish some kind of formation or training course to help priests understand Irish culture.”