THE Catholic Church 'may have to take another look' at celibacy and women priests, an Irish priest has said.
Writing for Derry Now, Fr Paddy O'Kane from Ballymagroarty parish in Derry said married and female priests might be the answer to dwindling numbers of seminarians.
Fr O'Kane's column comes just weeks after the ordination of six married men in Ireland as deacons of the Church.
In the opinion piece called 'Let's talk about married priests,' Fr O'Kane said: "Let’s face it, we have a crisis.
"This year the national seminary in Maynooth had only eight students entering to study for the priesthood.
"Half of these will probably leave during their training. When I went there in 1966 there was over 80."
"Priest-less parishes are appearing all over Ireland and may be here in this diocese before long," he continued.
"The church needs to adapt to these changing times," he said. "We may have to take another look at celibacy and women priests."
Fr O'Kane also referenced theologian Leonardo Boff's has claims that Pope Francis may grant a special request by the Brazilian bishops to allow married priests to resume their priestly ministry.
Previously, Boff said: "I have recently heard that the Pope wants to fulfil this request - as an experimental, preliminary phase for the moment confined to Brazil."
He added that the fact that Brazil has 140 million Catholics, but only 18,000 priests was a "catastrophe."
“No wonder the faithful are going over to the evangelical churches or to the Pentecostals in droves, as they are filling the personnel vacuum,” Boff said.
“If the many thousands of priests who have married are once again allowed to practice their ministry, that would be a first step to improving the situation but at the same time also an impulse for the Church to free itself of the fetters of celibacy."