Statement of the Association of Catholic Priests – Pope Francis and the ordination of married men.
Statement of the Association of Catholic Priests
The Association of Catholic Priests (ACP) welcomes the indication given by Pope Francis (in the course of a private audience with Brazilian Bishop Erwin Kautler) that the ordination of married men will be considered if bishops’ conferences around the world sponsor the reform.
The ACP and others have long argued that the ordination of proven married men (viri probati) could be a part answer to the Eucharistic famine about to afflict the Church, in Ireland as elsewhere.
Within the next two decades priest numbers in Ireland will plummet, with a tiny, ageing cohort of clergy struggling to say Mass in multiple parishes. The present ‘clustering strategy’, unimaginative and unrealistic, is no more than a short-term solution to the management of inevitable decline.
The crisis in vocations to the priesthood, now quantifiable and inevitable, demands strong leadership from the bishops, not least in Ireland, to ensure (as is their responsibility) that priest numbers are adequate to the needs of the people.
The ACP calls on the Irish bishops to respond with courage and conviction to the direct challenge presented to them by Pope Francis’ remarks.
This narrow window of opportunity – of ordaining married men, of proven faith, wisdom and quality of life – needs to be grasped with vigour and
imagination if faith-communities are not to become priest-less and Mass-less parishes.