Decline in vocations to priesthood


Sir, – Bishop Duffy of Ardagh and Clonmacnois lists reasons for the catastrophic decline in priest numbers in this country (Rite & Reason, April 25th). But he ignores what is probably the most important reason, one that has also led to the Catholic Church losing ground among the general public in line with the decline in priest numbers.

It is a matter pointed out to me all of 35 years ago by a very wise priest, now deceased. And he knew what he was talking about, because he was then president of an Irish seminary.

His comment was that, with Humanae Vitae in 1968, the Catholic Church had lost the intellectual argument. It had placed itself in stubborn opposition to scientific progress as surely as when it condemned Galileo for his “heresy” in defending the proposition that the earth orbited the sun.

Decline set in with Humanae Vitae, reversing the process of revitalisation of the Church which had begun with the Second Vatican Council, and has been downhill ever since. A self-inflicted wound. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 18.

Sir, – In ignoring all the prayers for vocations to priesthood and religious life, God must be hoping that the bishops will acknowledge the obvious and immediate solution: the ordination of women.

All the talk about the primacy of the male celebration of Mass is unimportance when set against the obduracy of the Catholic hierarchy in self-promotion and self-preservation under the cloak of God’s will. The bishops are not interested in addressing the declining number of priests. How come is it permissible to have married men ordained as priests in other sections of the Christian church?

The Anglican churches are continuing with ordained women.

Bishop Duffy wisely comments that “A time of decline can be an opportunity for growth in other areas” .Yes, but do not exclude the option which is nearest at hand – the ordination of women. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 8.