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Support Grows for Expanded Priesthood

With the Eucharist Synod only weeks away, pressure is mounting to discuss solutions to the priest shortage. The Australian National Council of Priests (NCP) which includes 42 bishops and three cardinals sent a “discussion starter” to every bishop, diocesan priest council and pastoral council. Responses will be sent to the two Australian bishop synod delegates to the Synod. The proposal contains six possible options for ensuring that Mass will continue to be available in a time of fewer priests: promoting the celibate priesthood, permitting optional celibacy, welcoming back married priests, limiting tenure for priests to 10-20 years for those who desire it, discussing if women should be barred from the priesthood, and appointing “community priests” from male parish leaders delegated to celebrate Mass for their community and partnered with an experienced priest. The paper also reflected on how Mass is celebrated, its ability to unify and include the poor and marginalized, and the impact of a centralized church authority on local church authority.

In May Scotland’s Cardinal Keith O’Brien told the Catholic Times he believed the Church would eventually permit optional celibacy: “Having seen something of the apostolate of married deacons, I can foresee the day when there will be married priests.”

Summer 2005



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