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Newcastle parish challenges bishop on celibate priesthood

A parish council in the NSW diocese of Maitland-Newcastle has written to the local bishop regretting that the community's access to the Eucharist "is being denied by the hierarchy's outdated insistence on maintaining a celibate priesthood".

The letter was signed by Doug Ashleigh, Pastoral Council Chairperson, on behalf of the People of St Therese's Parish in suburban New Lambton. It arose from discussions at a parish assembly in October, but has just been published online in the December-January issue of the Aurora docesan newspaper.

It further claimed that communion services are "not an adequate response to the shortage of ordained priests and in the long run actually undermine the role of an ordained priesthood".

The assembly was seeking to address the problem of the increasing demands on the parish's priest. The letter claims that the views it expresses were "formed in the presence of the Spirit", and supported by at least 90% of the congregation.

The letter suggests there are "more than sufficient vocations" to meet the Church's liturgical needs. These vocations, it says, exist "within the ranks of the married laity and the already ordained married men".

"It is time for the hierarchy to address this issue directly by ordaining sufficient members of the church to meet these liturgical needs," the letter asserts.

It was sent to Maitland-Newcastle Bishop Michael Malone. A similar letter was also sent to Archbishop Francis Carroll, president of the Australian Bishops' Conference.


Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle

17 Dec 2002