Sunday, 1 January 2017

Women as answer to the priest problem

Father Brendan Hoban, a co-founder of the Association of Catholic Priests, is concerned about the state of the Church in his native Ireland. Very concerned indeed. He describes priests in Ireland as "little more than a ceremonial presence on the sidelines of life" and as a "lost tribe." He laments the drastic decline in their number, down almost 17% in a decade, and the fact the vast majority of those remaining are old men.

To counter the crisis, he suggests ordaining married men as priests and ordaining women as deacons. Progressive ideas for a priest, yet he is still unable to accept the notion of women being equal to men. He opts instead for a clerical glass ceiling.

What an opportunity missed. Ordaining women as priests would in a moment double the pool available for the priesthood while at the same time go a long way to mitigating the scandal of child molestation that plagues the institution.

Not that I mourn the decline of the Irish Church, but I would think that those faithful who think progressively, such as the 90 per cent who believe priests should be allowed to marry, must regret the unnecessary decline of their priesthood, the many committed women precluded from fully serving their faith, and the congregants deprived of many fine pastors. The saviours of the Church are at hand, but even an innovative priest such as Father Hoban cannot overcome the residual misogyny of his institution.

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