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Bishop foreshadows need to consider ordaining married men

Bishop Brian Heenan of Rockhampton in Queensland is reported to have said that the church will need to consider ordaining married men to overcome a shortage of priests.

Bishop Heenan (pictured) told the ABC that it is becoming more difficult to find priests to work in the bush.

ABC television news last night also featured western Queensland priest Fr Robert Hollow, who will leave the Blackall and Barcaldine parishes at the end of May.

The report said that priest numbers in western Queensland have reduced from eight to two in just a couple of decades.

Fr Hollow suggested allowing suitable married men to be ordained to work in their communities.

Bishop Heenan agreed that the idea should be discussed.

"It's going to have to be considered because in every community there are wonderful people who could fulfil that role, but it's going to require a substantial change of thought on the part of the universal church," he said.

"We need to look very seriously at this because of the importance of the priesthood to the Catholic way of life," he said. "The way for the future for the church generally is to change its view of the way it gets priests."

"The idea of a local priest...there might be someone, an upstanding member of the community here, may be a married man, may be put through some limited training...understanding that he has to train for life, continue in service and that kind of stuff, but be ordained for the local community here."

Bishop wants church to consider ordaining married men (ABC Western Queensland 23/3/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Catholic Diocese of Rockhampton
National Council of Priests

Bishop calls priest crisis a media beat-up (CathNews 3/3/05)
Bush bishop backs priestly celibacy debate (CathNews 31/1/05)
Alternative priests' council hits back on mandatory celibacy (CathNews 28/1/05)
Council of Priests argues for married clergy (CathNews 27/1/05)
Bishops' Secretary confirms priests' survey on celibacy (CathNews 31/10/04)
US priests urge optional celibacy (CathNews 21/8/03)

Catholic Church has difficulty finding priests for the bush (ABC Radio AM 23/3/05)
Overseas priests answer rural bishop's prayers (Associated Press/The Age 24/3/05)
Overseas priests answer rural bishop's prayers (The Age/Australian Associated Press 24/3/05)

24 Mar 2005