A very important story broke this morning which has become a little lost in the furore over Denis Donaldson. It was that for the first time in a decade, an Irish Bishop has come out publically and said that he believes that priests should be allowed to marry. The last Bishop to say this publically was reprimanded by Rome but I sincerely hope that doesn't happen in this case. This is an important debate in the Catholic Church which should not be stifled but rather the opinions of all should be heard so that we can adress this important issue in a tolerant and accepting manner. Bishop Walsh believes that the celibacy rule has contributed to the lack of priests in Ireland currently;
“I have known some very fine priests who have left the priesthood because they found the challenge of celibacy not life-giving for them. Men like that are a great loss to the ministerial priesthood.”
With numbers of priests at an all time low in this country, perhaps the Chruch should open its doors to the many men who would be happy to commit their lives to God but also want to partake in a relationship. Bishop Walsh has been ahead of his time of a number of issues, indeed he was one of the first Bishops to publically face up to the Chruch's responsibilities with regards to the child abuse scandal when in 1999 he made a three-week pilgrimage of reconciliation in 1999 in which he personally visited every church in his diocese to apologise for the church’s failure to deal with clerical sexual abuse. He has also been active on the issue of rights for the travelling community. Fair play to Bishop Walsh for bravely sticking his head above the paraphet for a cause he believes in.