THE retired Bishop of Derry Dr. Edward Daly has suggested that the Catholic Church should rethink its policy on celibacy amongst its clergy.
He said that priests should have the right to marry if they wish.
Because of celibacy, Dr. Daly said that many young men who would make excellent priests are turning away from the vocation with the aim of starting a family.
Writing in his new book, A Troubled See: Memoirs of a Derry Bishop, Dr. Daly says: ”I ask myself, more and more, why celibacy should be the great sacred and unyielding arbiter, the paradigm of diocesan priesthood?”
“Why not prayerfulness, conviction in the faith, knowledge of the faith, ability to communicate in the modern age, honesty, integrity, humility, a commitment to social justice, a work ethic, respect for others, compassion and caring.”
He recounts his heartache, when as a bishop he saw priests resign from their ministry because they had fallen in love and wanted to marry.
“There is certainly an important and enduring place for celibate priesthood. But I believe that there should also be a place in the modern Catholic Church for a married priesthood and for men who do not wish to commit themselves to celibacy,” he said.
Dr. Daly became well known as the priest who helped ferry injured victims away from the shootings in Derry during the Bloody Sunday massacre. One of the most iconic images of the Troubles was of Dr. Daly frantically waving a white handkerchief at British security forces in an effort get a wounded man to safety.