Vocations and the religious life

 

Sir, – Bishop Ray Browne recently remarked that the decline in the number of active priests will soon make it impossible to have a weekend Mass in every parish in the Diocese of Kerry.

A similar problem exists in dioceses all over the country. As a person who values my faith and finds Mass especially spiritually uplifting, I regret any reduction in the provision of Masses throughout the country.

Bishop Browne has articulated the problem clearly, perhaps to provoke a debate on the issue at all levels of the Catholic Church. I commend his courage and foresight in doing so.

There is a solution to this problem if goodwill and generosity of spirit exist at all levels of the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church must change, adapt and modernise to meet the spiritual needs of contemporary society.

Gender inequality and compulsory celibacy are denying the faithful of the service of many fine individuals who would make excellent priests.

Through the ages, women have given outstanding service, devotion and loyalty to the Catholic Church. For reasons that are mainly historical, women are not allowed ordination to the priesthood. Just imagine the reinvigoration and energy – in addition to a substantial increase in the number of available priests – which would permeate all levels of the Catholic Church if the prohibition on female ordination were lifted.

Of course, priests should always have the right to remain single but they should also be entitled to marry. Likewise, married persons should be allowed to become priests if they has a vocation to do so. In a society where the role of the Catholic Church must be predominantly pastoral, social, compassionate and inclusive, the sacraments of holy orders and matrimony can no longer be mutually exclusive.

I am very optimistic about the sustainability of Catholicism into the future. It will be less influential and less pervasive. It will have to coexist and cooperate with those of other religions and none. It will have to work hard to regain the confidence of its flock. But as long as its core values are grounded in social justice, humility, altruism, inclusion and reconciliation, count me in as an active and committed member. – Yours, etc,

BILLY RYLE,

Tralee,

Co Kerry.

Sir, – I would describe myself as a committed Catholic, with a great love for the Catholic Church and its rich heritage. However, I have some real concerns regarding the position of women in the church.

Our Catholic teaching tells us that at the Last Supper, Jesus instituted the Eucharist, and also instituted the priesthood.

We are given to understand that the first priests were men. The church teaches us that God had God’s own reason for choosing men at the Last Supper, and right up to this day, has staunchly defended this as the reason why women have a completely separate role in the church. Is the church teaching us that God is sexist?

I believe that sexism is one of the scourges of our modern age, and I do not believe that God is sexist.

I look forward to a time when the Catholic Church will be a place of equal opportunity for all its members.

As Saint Peter tells us in the Acts of the Apostles, “God does not have favourites”. – Yours, etc,

MARY LAHIFF,

Shannon,

Co Clare.