Father Brian D'Arcy has spoken about the difficulties priests face in being celibate, saying that he believes clergy should be allowed to get married.
Speaking in conversation with the Managing Director of the National Ploughing Association Anna May McHugh and IFA environment chairman Harold Kingston at the Ploughing Championships yesterday, Fr D'Arcy explained that it has something he has always believed in his 50 years of being ordained.
"I'm 50 years ordained next year and all my life I've said priests should be allowed to get married. If some of them were not to get married and be celibate, as some Church of Ireland ministers are, both men and women, then they can do that," he said.
"But it's codology asking men in this day and age that to be a priest you also have to be celibate.
He added that living alongside other male priests has shown that it is "hard work" to remain celibate.
"I think it's an utter wrong theology of sexuality for a start. It's also a wrong insight into the psychology of development.
"Living as I do, in a community of men, I honestly know that it has taken very hard work and labour to remain normal and be a celibate."
Fr D'Arcy also spoke about the turnout for Pope Francis in Dublin last month, saying it was the crowds that he gathered were an "achievement" despite the "changing times" between the church and the people of Ireland.
"I was amazed at the fantastic life and joy in the Phoenix Park. It was fantastic. They really were absolutely through the roof with joy. I was expecting at least 50 or 60 thousand in the park, because of weather, because everybody was saying ‘don't go, you’re not able to go, you’re too old, you’re not allowed to walk, you’ll stand,’ and despite that, at least a quarter of a million did," he said.
"I think that is a hell of an achievement, no popstar will get that yet. Let’s put it into context and be fair with it."
He added that the world has changed since Pope John Paul II came to visit, and that the church has yet to come to grips with the "modern thinking mind".
"Whether it’s a changed world or the church isn’t moving with the times, there is a big missing link between a vast majority of people, and a belief in anything other than what they can see in front of them. There's a huge difference in context now, mainly because there’s more questions around.
"The world is entirely different, we as the church haven’t got the hang yet of being able to communicate with the modern thinking mind. We’re not the only ones, neither has politicians."
Mr Kingston, a member of the Church of Ireland community, said he noticed that social media had an impact on the Pope's visit to Ireland this time around.
"It (social media) appeared to be extremely negative and that was one thing I noticed, that there was a very negative vibe primarily driven by faceless individuals.
"People were also complaining about certain coverage, asking why we should we be covering this, it should stay separate- but it was an area of interest for everybody. He's an important person to a lot of people and it was great to see him come."
The trio, who discussed the topic at the Farming Independent panel this afternoon, also discussed the future of the Catholic church on Ireland and what it would be like in 20 years.
"I don't know where religion will be in Ireland in twenty years, I don’t know where the worlds going in twenty years and I think one depends on the other. There's nothing more dangerous than religion without faith," Fr D'Arcy said.
Anna May McHugh, who took part in the World Meeting of Families event this year, said she would be "very hopeful" that the church would still be present in Ireland by then.
"I would be very hopeful. You cannot expect teachers in schools to teach religion. My thinking is that you teach by example in the home," Ms McHugh said.
"I still believe there’s a very strong faith there in young people. I know that some people don’t go to mass, but they can be very faithful to their religion without going to mass. I think mass should be made more interesting."