No women need apply in search for lay deacons
THE Catholic Church has renewed a recruitment drive for lay people to preside at baptisms, weddings and funerals -- but women need not apply.
With priest numbers falling and a desire for more interaction between the public and clergy, several dioceses are looking for lay people to become deacons to help with various church ceremonies.
However, the fall in vocations has not prompted an opening of the ranks to women -- although the co-ordinator in the latest diocese to recruit lay deacons believes this could soon change.
"It's still a matter that's debated and it's not a closed question," said Fr Pat Fitzgerald of the Waterford and Lismore diocese.
"They (the church hierarchy) are taking authority from their interpretation of scripture and from tradition.
"We have to work with what's given to us," Fr Fitzgerald said. "If I had a vote I would vote for it (women deacons). I regret that it's not the case."
Fr Fitzgerald said the campaign to attract lay deacons was a "progressive move" as it would bring more ordinary people into the sanctuary and open up the ceremonies to more members of the public.
Just three priests have been ordained in the diocese in the past decade.