Shortage of priests debate sparks calls for lay-led services

Shortage of priests debate sparks calls for lay-led services

An Irish church convention has proposed that members of the public lead services during the week in order to counteract the shortage of priests in the country.

A Catholic Synod in Limerick, where 400 delegates spent three days voting on a hundred proposals, addressed the falling numbers in those entering the priesthood.

In order to aid this, the matter of women playing a more involved role in the Church was also discussed. One proposal, which detailed the need to develop and support lay-led liturgies and the celebration of sacraments, was supported by over 90 per cent of delegates.

The Irish Independent reports that Fr Eugene Duffy, a religious studies lecturer at Mary Immaculate College, said periodic lay-led liturgies without priests should be introduced on weekdays.

“If we can get used to having lay-led liturgy on weekdays first, then people will begin to appreciate it, understand it, grow in their own acceptance of it and see the value of it,” he said.

“In the absence of a priest, that’s what they will have to do on a Sunday. We have to start by doing it on a weekday and then people become familiar with it. The foundational thing that people have to do is to gather on a Sunday to worship, however we do it.”

Ordained

Fr Duffy also said that it was similar to practices within the Church of Ireland.

“The Church of Ireland has readers who look after the liturgy on a Sunday if an ordained Minister cannot be present. We are going to have to get used to this situation and have no option but to prepare for it. Otherwise there is going to be a trauma some Sunday.”

Although the role of women in the Church was debated, including if they should be ordained or not, was discussed it could not be voted on. Only three of the 100 proposals were rejected.

They were one to increase the age of confirmation to 16, the creation of a diocesan residential retreat centre and a motion on bringing priests from abroad.

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