AN organisation representing Catholic priests in Ireland has welcomed a report that the Pope could be poised to allow married priests back into ministry.
It is believed Pope Francis is receptive to the idea as a way of rectifying the shortage of priests in Brazil.
Fr Brendan Hoban, of the Association of Catholic Priests in Ireland,
said the move was needed "quickly" as the "reality is the Church is
When joining the Catholic priesthood, clerics take a vow of lifelong
celibacy and must leave the priesthood if they wish to marry.
It has been reported the Pope has been lobbied by bishops in Brazil
who have asked him to consider allowing married priests back into the
The claim was made by Leonardo Boff, a Brazilian Marxist theologian
and writer, following a conversation he said he had with Cardinal Walter
Kasper, a confidant of Pope Francis.
Mr Boff, who left the priesthood in the 1990s, said: "Married priests
may be again engaged in pastoral care. That is an explicit request from
the Brazilian bishops to the Pope. I have heard that the Pope wants to meet this request for now and for a certain experimental period in Brazil."
He added that if married priests were allowed to return, it would be a
sign that the "Catholic church now loosens the fetters of obligatory
Fr Hoban welcomed the report on Tuesday and said the Church should
accept married men to return to the priesthood in Ireland a bid to
tackle the decline in the number of priests.
"The reality is the Church is imploding, we have priests aged in
their 60s, 70s and 80s who are having to work longer, to work harder
than ever before and under more and more stress and possibly
depression," he said.
"The church is suffering and it is getting to the point that if
something doesn't happen soon, we are going to see a Eucharistic famine
in years to come.
"Some parishes have survived for centuries, but that may not be for
much longer. Basically we are shooting ourselves in the foot if we do
not tackle this issue quickly."