Bathurst Bishop Michael McKenna says he is willing to seriously consider the issue of married priests but he sees the benefits of celibate clergy. Source: Central Western Daily.
“I’m very open to looking at it seriously, and looking at it seriously does mean looking deeply into it. It may be one of those areas where more latitude is given to individual bishops or perhaps national bishops’ conferences to decide on cases rather than every case having to go through Rome,” Bishop McKenna said.
However, Bishop McKenna said celibate priests were an advantage for the diocese.
“Theoretically, the celibate clergy are a bit more available than if they’re looking after a family,” he said.
“If you’ve got a priest who’s got a wife and family and you need to shift him from Mudgee to Coonamble then that might not be possible. One of the things that having celibate clergy is supposed to give you is that they’re more free to be of service wherever they’re sent and also to be available.”
A submission by the National Council of Priests to the Plenary Council 2020 will argue that priests in remote parts of the country should be allowed to marry, and that priests who left the church to marry should be allowed to return to the priesthood.
Bishop McKenna said there were a number of issues at hand and that when priests left the church to marry there was “more to it than you would think”.
“My experience is there’s always a lot more to it than merely the fact of getting married and that’s one of the things you would look at on a case-by-case basis,” Bishop McKenna said.
“In a lot of cases you’d say well ‘no, that really wouldn’t be in the best interests of the man and his wife or indeed the Church’.”
Celibate priests may be more available than married ones: Bishop (Central Western Daily)