Bishop of Ardagh and Clonmacnois, Dr Francis Duffy
The Bishop of Ardagh and Clonmacnois, Dr Francis Duffy has said this week that if the Pope were to open up discussions on married priests, he would support the move.
Bishop Duffy was speaking to the Leader on Monday after it emerged that no young men from the diocese entered the seminary this year.
“Priests are not allowed to get married in the Catholic tradition and some people when they are talking about the priesthood say that priests should be allowed to marry,” the Bishop added.
“I think that if the Pope was going to introduce that, he would do a lot of consultation on the matter and I would certainly support that.”
Meanwhile, Pope Francis at the weekend, advised against making the pursuit of money, a career or success the basis for life.
The Pope was speaking during a homily on Saturday to mark Epiphany and he pointed to helping the poor and other needy communities, instead, while giving freely without expecting anything in return.
Back in the diocese of Ardagh and Clonmacnois, there are no seminarians studying for the priesthood this year.
Bishop Duffy says there are a number of reasons for the drop off in vocations - not just the marriage issue.
“The decline in the number of clergy is mainly in Europe,” the Bishop continued, before pointing to the fact that in other parts of the world, there was an increase.
“The rule of celibacy is only one factor in all of this; there are numerous factors in relation to why this is happening.”
In March of last year, in a pastoral letter entitled ‘Sustaining our Faith Community in the Diocese of Ardagh and Clonmacnois’, Bishop Duffy indicated clearly that many Longford parishes would not have a resident priest in the near future.
His letter on the declining number of priests was read at Masses in the 41 parishes of the diocese at the time.
He also revealed that, currently, there are no seminarians preparing for ordination in the diocese and that by 2030, 28 of the 53 diocesan priests would reach the retirement age of 75 years, thereby leaving just 25 priests to cover 41 parishes.