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Renee Kohler-Ryan (The Record)

It might “go against the grain” outside the Church, but Professor Renee Kohler-Ryan insists there is a strong case for Catholic priests to stay celibate. Source: The Australian.

As national head of the School of Philosophy and Theology at Notre Dame University Australia, she teaches young men who aspire to a life in the priesthood with all the worldly sacrifices that entails.

Yet there’s another side rarely brought out: what they gain in the process.

“Spiritually speaking, they’re really married to the Church,” Professor Kohler-Ryan said.

“They’re giving their whole lives to this vocation and I think we’re not good enough, generous enough, as a society in realising what a special relationship it is.

“To be a priest is to be serving and giving one’s whole life like Christ gave his whole life. So that’s what I see in these young men … there isn’t a sense of loss for what they are forgoing, it’s more a sense of fulfilment.”

This discussion is replete with nuance and counter-intuitive turns. If the five million Australians who identify as being Catholic, without necessarily attending Mass, are part of a universal Church, there are striking differences in the recruitment rate of new priests across the country.

“Overall, it really does look like we’re not replacing priests at the levels we would need to sustain the parish levels we have right now,” Professor Kohler-Ryan said.

A practicing Catholic, she is a member of the nine-strong Australian contingent to attend the Synod on Synodality in Rome in October. The Synod will examine priestly celibacy alongside other hot-button issues for Catholics such as women in the clergy and outreach to the LGBTQ+ community.


Celibacy a gift that ‘fulfils’ priests, says theology professor (By Jamie Walker, The Australian)


Brisbane Archbishop backs married Indigenous men to be allowed pathway to priesthood (The Catholic Leader