An Irish bishop wants his fellow bishops to discuss the possibility of ordaining married men to the priesthood. CNS photo/Paul Haring

Irish bishop seeks to discuss ordaining of married men

By  Michael Kelly, Catholic News Service
  • June 11, 2015

DUBLIN - An Irish bishop urged his colleagues to establish a commission to discuss the possibility of ordaining married men.

Bishop Leo O'Reilly of Kilmore also wants the Irish bishops' conference to empower the commission to further study female deacons.

The proposal stemmed from a 10-month listening process that O'Reilly led in the Kilmore Diocese, which led to a diocesan assembly and a new diocesan pastoral plan to tackle challenges facing the Catholic Church, including the declining number of priests.

O'Reilly told The Irish Catholic newspaper he plans to ask that the idea of the new commission be discussed at the next meeting of the bishops' conference in October and "take it from there."

"I think the other bishops would be open to the idea of a discussion and we are reaching a situation where we have to look at all the options possible," he said.

O'Reilly said his proposal came in response to Pope Francis.

"Pope Francis has encouraged individual bishops and bishops' conferences to be creative in looking at ways to do ministry in the future, so I think we have to consider all options," he said.

The proposed commission would be similar to one in Brazil under the leadership of Cardinal Claudio Hummes, former prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy and retired archbishop of Sao Paulo, and Bishop Erwin Krautler of Xingu to study the possibility of ordaining married men in response to the shortage of priests.

Mandatory celibacy for priests in the Latin rite of the Catholic Church is a matter of law and tradition, not doctrine or dogma. Church authorities have at times given permission for married clerics of other Christian traditions who become Catholic to be ordained as priests.

Currently, the Catholic Church permits only men to be ordained as deacons. Permanent deacons can preach and preside at baptisms, funerals and weddings, but may not celebrate Mass or hear confessions.

Some historians say women deacons existed as a special category in the early history of the church. However, a 2002 study by the International Theological Commission concluded that the role of female deacons was not the same as male deacons.

Comments (4)

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Deaconesses merely served a temporary role when baptism was done by immersion. They baptized female converts for modesty's sake. As for a married vs. celibate priesthood, that is a discipline, not a doctrine so it can change. The question of...

Deaconesses merely served a temporary role when baptism was done by immersion. They baptized female converts for modesty's sake. As for a married vs. celibate priesthood, that is a discipline, not a doctrine so it can change. The question of course is whether it is necessary to change.

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This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

In my diocese, when I served as Dir. Of Religious Education, I observed the pampering and primping of deacon candidates by diocesan officials and parish priests. When in reality, the day-to-day work, faith building, etc. was done by women. Some...

In my diocese, when I served as Dir. Of Religious Education, I observed the pampering and primping of deacon candidates by diocesan officials and parish priests. When in reality, the day-to-day work, faith building, etc. was done by women. Some have advanced degrees; we were kept in our places.

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This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

"Handmaids of the Lord:Women Deacons in the Catholic Church" by Jane Coll has an Imprimatur from her bishop. It looks in detail at the role of women and concludes that they cannot be ordained as priests but could be ordained as deacons. David -...

"Handmaids of the Lord:Women Deacons in the Catholic Church" by Jane Coll has an Imprimatur from her bishop. It looks in detail at the role of women and concludes that they cannot be ordained as priests but could be ordained as deacons. David - deaconesses did far more than assist at baptisms!

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This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

The ITC which reported on the subject of deaconesses did not rule them out:
In the light of these elements which have been set out in the present historico-theological research document, it pertains to the ministry of discernment which the Lord...

The ITC which reported on the subject of deaconesses did not rule them out:
In the light of these elements which have been set out in the present historico-theological research document, it pertains to the ministry of discernment which the Lord established in his Church.

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