One of Ireland’s best known and most influential laicised priests has suggested that Pope Francis initiate a way of bringing back to priestly ministry thousands of men who have left because of compulsory celibacy.
Denis Bradley told The Irish Catholic he wished the Pope could “find a
way of bringing back a lot of people who have left or were pushed out
and find a sacramental role for them”.
Mr Bradley (68) was a diocesan priest in Derry for a decade in the
Seventies where he witnessed Bloody Sunday and was laicised in the early
Married with three grown up children, he said: “If I was Francis I’d
say to the hierarchies of the world go and find a way of bringing back
as many as possible of these people.”
He stressed the issue should be dealt with in a “sensitive and
indirect way” and that his suggestion “poses no theological or doctrinal
Mr Bradley said: “The Pope could say to the hierarchies find a method
within your own culture, within your own communities and within your
own churches of bringing these people back.”
He suggested that a return to the priestly fold of many former
priests would help redress the current situation where he claimed “the
Church at a clerical level has been taken over by very young and very
conservative young men. I think half of them are in Opus Dei.”
He has been “surprised and buoyed up” by Francis and hopes he “will
succeed in knocking clericalism out of the way and replacing it with a
more mixed leadership”.
Denis Bradley was the founding vice-chairman of the Northern Ireland
Policing Board and with former Archbishop Robin Eames chaired the
Consultative Group on the Past.
Many of its ideas have been
re-introduced by former US diplomat Dr Richard Haass.