- Now the talking really begins
Pope Francis wanted frankness and openness and that is what he got. But there is also the sense that the real debate in the Church about marriage and families is only just starting
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The Archbishop of Dublin has signalled his openness to a discussion on the ordination of married men as priests.
Speaking after Easter Sunday ceremonies, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin referred to comments by Bishop Erwin Kräutler of Xingu in Brazil, that were reported in The Tablet. Bishop Kräutler said that Pope Francis is open to hearing suggestions from bishops’ conferences across the world on ordaining viri probati (men of proven character).
"The Pope said he is open to the question, he wants to listen to local churches. But he said no local church, no national church, should go on its own," the archbishop told the Irish Independent.
He said he would therefore "wait and see" what Pope Francis decided, though he suggested that the ordination of married men would be very important in missionary countries.
He ruled out the ordination of women, saying it was "not on the table at the moment" and suggested that the contribution of deacons needed to be explored more as well as how priests and lay people could collaborate more productively in parishes.
In a separate interview, the archbishop revealed the number of priests in the archdiocese of Dublin has dropped below 400 for the first time. There are now 250 active diocesan priests to cover 199 parishes.
In his Chrism Mass homily, the Archbishop acknowledged that many of the functions which priests used to exercise in the Church have now been “rightly assumed by lay men and women”, while many of the traditional social supports for priests have been weakened.
Above: Archbishop Martin. Photo: CNS/Paul Haring