Times have changed, and priests want to get married as the Catholic Church in Ireland wants to put an end to forced celibacy among the reforms needed to address the shortage of Catholic priests in Ireland.
The Association of Catholic Priests (ACP) warned that if the decline in the number of serving priests is not halted then members of the faith in Ireland would face the prospect of being denied church weddings and christenings.
The ACP, which has roughly 1,000 members, said that sacraments could disappear in some parishes as the retirement and death rate among priests far exceeds the recruitment of new clerics.
Fr Tim Hazelwood, a spokesman for the ACP, said the Catholic Church “faced a catastrophic situation” and that priests were an “endangered species.”
“We’re facing a really bleak future unless new measures are brought in,” he said ahead of the ACP’s annual meeting.
Women and married men are not allowed to become Catholic priests, and the ACP has said that the Catholic Church must embrace radical reforms that would allow priests to marry and to admit female members as clerics.
Calls for reforms are gaining momentum not just in Ireland but in other traditionally Catholic countries. Recently, Catholic bishops from across the Amazon called for the introduction of married priests.