Eight out of 10 priests believe they should be allowed to marry.
And six out of 10 who took part in a national radio survey believe women should be ordained priests.
Newstalk invited 320 priests to participate in the survey and 114 responded. Most (96%) had been serving members for 10 years or more. Many (65%) felt their reputations have been damaged by abuse scandals in the Church.
Meanwhile, 75% of priests feel Enda Kenny’s criticisms of the Vatican were undeserved.
One priest said Mr Kenny’s comments were outrageous and totally uncalled for. Another accused him of behaving like “an angry, ill-informed teenager”.
Nearly one in four priests believe their faith has been altered by the handling of abuse cases in the Church. About 61% do not feel the hierarchy understands the challenges they face.
“They [the bishops] don’t seem to know the questions, never mind suggesting answers,” one priest remarked.
While 63% believe the sex abuse cases were poorly handled by the Vatican, 64% feel that they and the Church have been unfairly portrayed in the media.
Almost 80% said their confidence in RTÉ had been damaged by the Fr Kevin Reynolds defamation case.
Most priests (83%) believe the Catholic Church should be involved in State education; 11% said no and 6% were unsure.
Regarding the Eucharistic Congress being hosted in Ireland in June, 51% said it was an appropriate time for such an event, 45% said no, and 4% were unsure.
Commenting on the survey results, Fr Sean McDonagh of the Association of Catholic Priests said priests who believe they should be allowed marry also felt that those who had left the ministry to marry were a loss to the Church. He said the question of women priests was very interesting because Catholics were precluded from even talking about it.
And, he said, while the handling of abuse cases in the Church had altered some priests’ faith, it was their faith in the Church, not the Gospels.
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