Catholic Church facing 'Eucharistic famine' due to shortage of priests


THE IRISH Catholic Church is facing “a Eucharistic famine” unless it addresses seriously the shortage of priests, Fr Brendan Hoban has warned.

A member of the leadership of the Association of Catholic Priests, he said yesterday “there is a danger that in 20 years’ time there will be no priests at all in Ireland”, which would mean no Mass and no Eucharist.

He has pointed out in the past that, on current trends, by 2032 in his diocese of Killala, Co Mayo, there will be eight priests, all of them in their 60s or 70s.

Fr Hoban was speaking to The Irish Times yesterday to coincide with the launch of his book Where Do We Go From Here? The Crisis in Irish Catholicism.

He has called for radical change in the formation of priests in Ireland to enable the ordination of older men who live worthy lives, whether married or unmarried.

In the early church, such viri probati, men of proven seriousness and maturity, were ordained.

Fr Hoban noted too that formation for the permanent diaconate, involving married and unmarried men, took place on a part-time basis over four years. Such men carry out all the functions of a priest except for instituting the Eucharist.

He also said the church must “be serious about involving women”. Realistically “ordination is down the road”, he said, but women could still be appointed to the college of cardinals in Rome, as ordination is not a requirement.