Papal nuncio warns Catholics against becoming ‘caricatures’

Relations between Ireland and the Vatican have ‘improved immensely’

The shortage of priests in Ireland is a huge problem and the "crisis in numbers . . . will, in the short term, not get better", papal nuncio to Ireland Archbishop Charles Brown has said.

In an extensive interview with The Irish Times he referenced the need for more vocations.

“We have a tremendous need for priests. It is only now in 2015 that we’re beginning to feel the lack of priests because we’ve a large number of priests, wonderful men in their 70s and some in their 80s who are still working . . . that of course means that within five or seven years that entire segment will disappear,” he said.

“It’s certainly being addressed. The question is how is it being addressed. Every bishop at every moment of every day is concerned about this issue as it becomes more difficult to find priests to go to parishes,” he added.



He also warned Catholics against becoming caricatures through a seeming preoccupation with abortion, gay marriage and contraception.

He said the moral teaching of the church had to be seen in the context of Christian life in general and "we need to avoid the caricature that the only thing the Catholic Church has to speak about is abortion, gay marriage and contraception".

He said “the caricature would be that these Catholics, all they talk about are those three things, and we don’t want to put ourselves in that situation because the beauty of life with Christ, the spirituality of the Catholic Church, the history of the Catholic Church, the life of grace, the aspiration to be found worthy of the life of the world to come, eternal life, that is what this is about.”

In this he echoed Pope Francis in his interview with La Civiltà Cattolica in which he said "we ought not to be reduced as Catholics to the disjointed, obsessive proclamation of a few moral truths to the exclusion of everything else". He also praised bishops for doing "an excellent job" in their presentation of the church's teachings prior to last May's same-sex marriage referendum.

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry is a contributor to The Irish Times