‘Quick fix’ married priests solution won’t tackle vocations decline – bishop

‘Quick fix’ married priests solution won’t tackle vocations decline – bishop Bishop Alphonsus Cullinan.

Commitments between family and parish can cause “a battle in one’s heart” for married priests, the Bishop of Waterford and Lismore said, warning against the “quick fix solution”.

Bishop Phonsie Cullinan, who is Chairman for the Council for Vocations of the bishops’ conference, spoke to The Irish Catholic in Knock, Co. Mayo at an event which brought together vocation directors from across Ireland to the national shrine.

Bishop Cullinan said: “A lot of people put that out there as a solution, but you have to sit down and think about that very carefully. In my own discussion with a Protestant clergywomen, she said that in every marriage of a Protestant minister there is always a conflict between family and parish commitments.

He asked: “What do you do when the son or daughter wants to be brought to sports and there’s a church event at that time? So you have a dilemma straight away. You have that battle in one’s heart, giving yourself entirely to your parish or giving yourself entirely to your family.

“As well as that of course, how many marriages are breaking up now? Do we seriously think that if priests could marry they will be any different? What do you do then if you have somebody who is separated from his wife and who is trying to minister to a parish? There is all of that. To put out a quick fix solution might seem logical, but when you delve a little bit deeper…”

The Diocesan Vocation Director’s Conference took place from March 7-8 with Cardinal Lazzaro You Heung-sik of the Vatican’s Dicastery for the Clergy addressing the conference.

Bishop Cullinan announced a Year of Vocations to the Diocesan Priesthood on April 30, which concludes on April 25, the Feast of St Mark the Evangelist. He said: “The fact of the matter is that the vast majority of priests, when you drill down, they’re actually happy. That is a key element in this whole question, they have devoted their lives to their parishes, to their ministry and to their people and it is a very fulfilling life and it is a life worth living and a life worth promoting.

“We have been very privileged throughout this year to have had so many events. Very many of them small that is true, but yet at the same time, connecting with people, getting the message out there…” the bishop said, adding that he hopes the momentum of the year promoting diocesan vocations will continue.