Priests at the AGM of the Association of Catholic Priests in Athlone, Ireland

Irish priest dismisses ‘no’ to women’s ordination: “Jesus didn’t ordain black people either”

Arguments for not ordaining women to the priesthood don’t make any sense, a leading Irish priest has said.

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Father Brian D’Arcy made the comments as the Association of Catholic Priests (ACP), an Irish Catholic priests’ discussion group, called Wednesday in its Annual General Meeting in Athlone for more roles for women at parish level.

“The argument that they give now for not ordaining women is that Jesus never ordained women, but that’s not an argument”, D’Arcy claimed.

“He [Jesus] didn’t ordain Irish people, black people, gay people – and they’re all ordained now.

“So it’s not an argument.

“We need to ordain married men and, if necessary, we need to ordain women”.

D’Arcy was speaking as another Irish priest from the ACP, Fr. Tim Hazelwood, warned the Irish Church is “facing a catastrophic situation in the next ten to twenty years, because there are not enough male celibate vocations to keep our parishes alive”.

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In its AGM, the ACP, which has over 1,000 members in Ireland, called for women to be appointed as pastors and to other key positions in parishes even despite Vatican refusal to ordain them as priests.

The ACP heard that women could take more responsibility in churches as a way to make up for the priest shortage, particularly in rural Ireland where priests are cutting Mass times and baptism and marriage schedules.

In this sense, the priests of the ACP discussed a model from the United States, where women can be appointed parish coordinators with authority over parish priests but without the need to be ordained.

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What’s next

The issue of women’s ordination received a small boost at the Amazon Synod that finished Sunday in the Vatican.

The bishops present at the Synod called on Pope Francis to recognise the “ministeriality” that Jesus entrusted to women, and to promote their involvement as official Church lectors, acolytes and “women leaders of the community”, among other formal Church offices to be developed.

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In response to the bishops’ stated wish to share their “experiences and reflections” on women’s ministry in the Amazon, the Pope has already pledged to reopen the Commission he set up in 2016 to study the diaconate of women in the early Church.

He disbanded that Commission in May after members could not reach an agreement.

But some Catholic women thought the Amazon Synod bishops didn’t go far enough in their push for more power for women in the Church.

The lobby group Voices of Faith, for example, said the refusal to move forward on women’s ordination immediately was “unacceptable” and “an affront to the women in the Amazon who are serving as deacons and priests already, and to women everywhere who have continued to serve faithfully, but are not recognized”.

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