Rejected presidential candidate Peter Casey has said he longs for a day when we have a female priesthood and a “woman Pope”.
The Irish entrepreneur, who garnered national attention for his controversial remarks about the Travelling community during the presidential race, has said that the priesthood needs to be reformed to reflect the values of today’s society.
“Currently no new priests are joining, and convents are closing down. I would counsel Church leaders – both ordained and lay people – to urge a change in the priesthood that will bring the clergy and their Church into closer alignment with the modern society,” he told the Sunday Independent.
He added that priests should be allowed to marry, and that women should also have a clerical role within the Church.
“Celibacy, as an absolute requirement, should end, and the priesthood should no longer be restricted to men. I look forward to the day when we have a woman Pope,” he said.
Commenting on these aspirations, Dr John Murray, lecturer of theology and philosophy in Dublin City University, said that the Church’s teaching on the priesthood is based on a 2,000-year-old tradition by which Jesus chose “men as apostles” for a particular function and mission. He added that this belief is a matter of faith and that focusing on the question of a female priesthood is a “waste of time”.
“It is very much based on believing in Christ and believing in the Church as a matter of faith so I think it’s not going to change.
“So, as well as not being the Faith, I think it’s also a waste of time,” Dr Murray told The Irish Catholic.
He also said that the energy put into fighting this issue could be better spent on trying to find ways laypeople can be more active as Catholics in their parishes.
“To constantly be harping on about women priests is basically to put across the message that the Church is not reliable – and if we put across the message that the Church is not reliable on something as basic as this – that’s not going to help reform the Church.
“It just weakens the Church,” Dr Murray said.