One of Ireland’s longest-serving Catholic bishops said he would have no difficulty if the Church allowed priests to marry.
Bishop of Cork and Ross, Most Rev Dr John Buckley, commented as he promoted religious life and the priesthood at a students’ careers fair in Cork yesterday.
However, he said he was not sure if changing Church rules on celibacy would boost vocations.
“Celibacy is a regulation of the Church,” he said.
“Certainly, in the years ahead, people might look at that, and I wouldn’t see any difficulty if they see that it’s absolutely necessary. But whether it would help vocations, I’m not sure. Other denominations which allow ministers to marry are also seeing a shortage of vocations.”
Third-level institutions from all over Ireland and Britain, and industry bodies attended the Institute of Guidance Counsellors- organised Career Options Expo for second-level students, but it is the first time in several years that Vocations Ireland attended, and the first time the bishop manned the stand.
With just 11 ordinations of diocesan priests in Ireland in 2014, and 15 last year, Bishop Buckley said his diocese, like others, is operating under constraints but he told students that religious life is a “great calling”.
He also confirmed that Pope Francis has yet to answer his letter of resignation, written two years ago.
“I have served in the diocese of Cork for 33 years — the longest-serving bishop in Cork,” he said. “It has given me joy and happiness. My greatest joy is the enrichment which contact with people gives to my life. You are bringing good news to people, and people appreciate that.”
Glanmire-based Fr Anthony Buckley, ordained five years ago, said celibacy is a “great gift” he treasures.
“It allows me great freedom to give myself completely to God and his people,” he said. “My days can be very busy and if I had a wife and children, I think they’d see very little of me.”
Up to 5,500 students will have attended the careers fair by close of business today.
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