Report won’t change Church, says Fr D’Arcy

A LANDMARK report on the views of tens of thousands of Irish Catholics has called for equal treatment of women in terms of leadership and decision-making, and that their ordination to the priesthood is essential – just don’t expect change to happen any time soon.
That was Fermanagh priest Fr Brian D’Arcy’s response to findings in the National Synthesis report, which is the result of consultations that began in 2021 throughout the Irish Church’s 26 dioceses.
In the extensive report, the role of women in the Church was mentioned in almost every submission and the exclusion of women from the diaconate was described “as particularly hurtful”.
The report quotes one submission which stated: “Women have a special place in the Church but not an equal place.”
Many of the women consulted remarked that they are not prepared to be considered second-class citizens anymore and many are leaving the Church.
“They feel that even though their contribution over the years has been invaluable, it has been taken for granted,” the report said.
It was nothing new to Fr D’Arcy, who maintained that women priests and married priests had been “obvious changes to make” for years.
“For close to 20 years, I have been saying for these changes to be made. Authoritarian methods do not work anymore, in any organisation. It has got to be a community-minded decision from the ground up,” he explained.
“At least the report recognises this is the way the people are thinking, but you won’t be seeing any change in the immediate future. It will still be a long time before there’s any definitive change at all. As long as there is a clerically dominated church it won’t happen.”
Many of the young participants were critical of the Church regarding the role of women, clerical celibacy, and the handling of the abuse crisis. A significant number disagreed with the Church’s position on sex which was considered a barrier to participation by some young people.
“Now the more conservatives in the clergy are saying that we have got to finally do something to make it more inclusive, particularly when it comes to the LGBTQ community,” Fr D’Arcy said.
“It’s quite unchristian to act so rigidly towards these people and others. Our job is not to condemn people, but to embrace them as part of our community.
“The same goes for the priesthood and that it has to be male celibate only. If male celibates want to join that’s fine but if they are the only ones that can be a priest then that’s ridiculous.
“We need a societal rejig and to move on from these outdated institutions.”

To read more.. Subscribe to current edition

Receive quality journalism wherever you are, on any device. Keep up to date from the comfort of your own home with a digital subscription.
Any time | Any place | Anywhere


The Fermanagh Herald is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
Registered in Northern Ireland, No. R0000576. 28 Belmore Street, Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland, BT74 6AA