Parish Practice

Imagine no parish priest

07 June 2017 | by John Deehan


The vocations ‘crisis’ occupies an increasingly central place in church discussions. But sometimes a detailed thinking through of the consequences of some proposals is missing. A priest takes up that challenge / by John Deehan

When looking to the future, and changes that we might introduce, we sometimes need to do thought experiments. Here’s one of mine, on a possible future for
the priesthood.

Imagine our bishops offered the Catholic community a referendum with two questions, “Do you wish your parish to be staffed by a married parish priest at the earliest opportunity” and, “Do you wish to be served by married non-stipendiary priests?”

After a long discussion as to who should be given a vote – Mass-going Catholics, paid- up Catholics, or all certified Catholics – imagine the referendum is held and a resolution for change passed by a narrow majority, with a considerable number of non-voters. Let’s call it “Prexit” – “exiting from traditional priestly parish structures”! The bishops, traditionally assumed to be “Remainers” announce that they will do their best to facilitate this great change; but it would be up to each parish to consider its needs and decide how it should implement the change.

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