The head of Australia’s National Council of Priests says the Plenary Council 2020 could fail to support a push for married priests after Pope Francis’ recent “disappointing” failure to confront the issue. Source: Newcastle Herald.
By Joanne McCarthy, Newcastle Herald
“There’s a nervousness about this issue,” said Fr Paddy Sykes after the National Council of Priests supported lifting mandatory celibacy to allow mature married men to become priests in Australia, including former Catholic priests who left the priesthood to marry.
The proposal formed part of the council’s submission to the Plenary Council in October, which is billed as the most significant Australian Catholic gathering for more than 50 years.
But the Pope's failure to back married mature priests in his statement earlier this month, Querida Amazonia, was “deflating” and “disappointing” after hopes were raised during last year’s Amazon Synod, Fr Sykes said.
Pope Francis had shown strong support for “listening to the people down below, and the people down below had said to him this is what we want – married priests”, Fr Sykes said.
Instead the Pope asked Catholics to pray for more men to take up vocations to address a serious shortage of priests in the Amazon region, and did not mention married priests or celibacy.
“I’m one of the people who’s disappointed those issues haven’t been confronted a little more meaningfully. My concern is Australian Catholic Church issues that have been raised for the Plenary Council will end up in the same basket. The issues are the same,” Fr Sykes said.
Fr Sykes said the Plenary Council structure did appear to be “a bit of a stacked deck”, but Australia’s bishops were also a “split deck” between those who support some reforms and conservative bishops who don’t.
In its Plenary Council submission the National Council of Priests supported “greater transparency and accountability in terms of how the Church is run and decisions are made” and a greater role for women, although the council of priests stopped short of supporting women priests.