Lack of priests puts masses in jeopardy

Lay-led services possible instead

Seamus McEntee lies prostrate before  Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin during his ordination at St Mary’s Pro Cathedral in Dublin  last week. Photograph: David Sleator/The Irish Times

Seamus McEntee lies prostrate before Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin during his ordination at St Mary’s Pro Cathedral in Dublin last week. Photograph: David Sleator/The Irish Times

Thu, Jun 12, 2014, 01:00

Catholic bishops are considering how to address the affects a shortage of priests is having on the abiliy of some parishes to celebrate weekday Masses.

The issue was addressed by the bishops at their summer meeting in Maynooth this afternoon.

In a statement, the bishops said they “welcomed the conversations being conducted by the Council for Liturgy of the Bishops’ Conference on liturgy on weekdays when the celebration of Mass is not possible”.

They addressed “the variety of situations that arise” and looked forward to “guidelines and resources becoming available to assist dioceses and parishes to respond appropriately to this pastoral need.” It is understood such guidelines could include celebrations of the liturgy of the word being led by lay people, with previously consecrated hosts being distributed at Communion time.

It was also announced that the bishops will hold a conference this weekend on marriage and the family in advance of the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops which Pope Francis will host next October on the family.

The Catholic Bishops’ Council for Marriage will hold the conference on Saturday at Clonliffe College in Dublin. Those attending will include leaders in parishes and dioceses and others involved in faith and pastoral leadership, including parents, grandparents, teachers, members of parish pastoral councils and others.

The keynote speaker will be Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin.

Others to address the conference will include Bishop Liam MacDaid, chair of the Bishops’ Council for Marriage and the Family, Dr Tony Fahey, Prof of Social Policy at the School of Applied Science in UCD, and Colette Furlong from the Sligo parishes cluster.

Speaking ahead of the event, Bishop MacDaid said: “It is vitally important to explore together how parishes can continue to support families in their calling to live, pass on and share their faith, given the pastoral challenges that affect families today.”

It was also disclosed that the church’s child safeguarding watchdog, its National Board for Safeguarding Children, is assisting with the administration of the forthcoming Anglophone Conference on child protection which will take place in Rome from July 7th to July 11th.

Speakers will include experts in counselling and support for abuse survivors and of monitoring perpetrators of abuse in the church.

The bishops also paid tributes to Bishop of Elphin Christopher Jones, who is retiring, “for his compassionate, inspirational and dedicated Christian leadership”.