The Association of Catholic Priests is backing Bishop of Derry, Edward Daly’s calls for the removal of compulsory celibacy as a requirement for Catholic priests.
Father Brendan Hoban, found of the association told the Irish Times “It is one part of our platform. The vocations situation is one thing, but it is also important as an issue.
“In 10-15 years’ time it will be a drastic situation [where priest numbers are concerned] and there is no plan B.”
Hoban said Catholic priests were “mesmerized” by the Vatican’s recent introduction of the personal prelature for disaffected married Anglican clergy. They are now being recognized as Catholic priests.
Another founding member of the association, Father told the Daily Mail “His views would be in very much in line with the association's. We only wish that some more bishops who are not retired would speak out on the issue.'
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He also went on to comment on the double standards allowed for Protestant priests who convert. He said “They are allowed to become Catholic priests even though are married. So if the church will recognize them, why not recognize a Catholic priest who wants to get married?”
David Quinn, the former editor of the Irish Catholic newspaper, said that he didn't believe the removal of the ban would increase of vocations. He said “I don't believe the issue is as cut and dry as Bishop Daly makes it out to be.'
In his newly released memoir “A Troubled See” Daly wrote that “something needs to be done and done urgently” to remove the compulsory celibacy requirement for Catholic priests.
The former Bishop of Derry said he hopes that “senior members of the clergy and laity make their views more forcefully known” on the matter, “views that are often expressed privately but seldom publicly”. He believes “there should also be a place in the modern Catholic Church for a married priesthood and for men who do not wish to commit themselves to celibacy”.
Daly also commented on the liturgy and language of the Catholic Mass. He said that he found Mass in Latin “lifeless and somewhat meaningless” and that he found contemporary Mass adequate.
The former bishop also wrote about how bishops in the Catholic Church as selected. He noted that “bishops who served in the dioceses of Ireland for the last 100 years have been largely drawn from a small elite group within the priesthood”.
He said in the 20th century “more than 75 per cent of bishops were appointed from less than 20 per cent of the priests” and that these latter “were engaged” or “have spent most of their priestly lives engaged in full-time teaching (at second and/or third level)”.