THE retiring Dean of St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin, the Very Revd Dr Robert MacCarthy (News, 13 January), has called for a fundamental reform of the understanding of priesthood in both the Roman Catholic and Anglican Churches, in an article on Christian unity commissioned for the weekly newspaper The Irish Catholic.
Dr MacCarthy describes the current condition of the two Churches as “wintertime”. He accuses the RC Church of reneging on the Second Vatican Council, and says that the Church of Ireland is “scraping the barrel” for clergy.
“Many of us remember the days of the Vatican Council which was called by Pope John XXIII against all official advice. The Council revealed a confident and hopeful Church which was happy to see real power being delegated to the bishops, and so to local churches.
“It was a confident Church which set up the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission, which brought out agreed statements on authority and the eucharist. They spoke of convergence in the not too distant future in respect of these thorny doctrinal matters. . .
“In fact, since the time of the Council, in the 1960s, we have seen a rowing back by the Vatican on all the concerns of the Council: the recent ‘reform’ of the liturgy is merely the latest example.”
Dr MacCarthy says that, in Ireland, all the Churches are failing to pass on the faith to the under-30s, but that, in the area of sex abuse, the RC Church is belatedly doing what it should have been doing all along. Led by Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, it is being entirely open with the authorities about cases of sexual abuse.
In order to reverse the trend and the slide in vocations, he suggests the abolition of obligatory celibacy.