Maybe a time to let women fill those gaping clergy gaps

Country Living with Francis Farragher

We all see it happening on our own doorsteps, and last week as I glanced through this newspaper, and saw a two-page spread on the diminishing number of priests to serve communities, the solution seemed to be quite obvious.

I come under the category of the greater Catholic family and while not particularly well endowed in terms of piety or faith, there are times when spirituality, tradition and Christianity can bring its own solaces and especially so when we are confronted with the many crises we face in life.

All of the Church’s scandals and cover-ups over the decades have been well highlighted – and rightly so – and many of us of a certain age who had dealings with monks and brothers back the years will have some uncomfortable memories from that time.

And yet, there has to be a reasonable level of sympathy too, with the many genuine priests who now have to live with the sins of their predecessors, whether it be a taunt from a drunk at a bus stop, or even more venomous online abuse.

Like so many things in life, that’s just not fair for ‘a man of the cloth’ who has never put a foot wrong and who does everything to live by the Christian principles of life. No marriage, no partners,no family life and no children can all add up to make for quite a lonely existence as each night a priest locks the front and back doors of the ‘parish house’.

Last week’s feature on diminishing priestly numbers across Galway, written by my colleague Declan Tierney, made me ask myself that ridiculously simple question of why the Catholic Church excludes one half of their congregation from being allowed into ministry.

Pictured: Trying to open that door.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

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