Concerns about mental and physical welfare of Irish priests

Serious concerns have been expressed about well-being of priests in Ireland, in the light of what is being called “huge mental and physical pressure”.

The concerns were aired at a meeting between several Irish bishops and representatives of the Association of Catholic Priests, the Irish Times reported.

The ACP said it was “becoming more and more aware of a growing problem around the well-being of priests” who were being subject to “huge mental and physical pressure”.

This was due to “age, resulting in a decline of energy and enthusiasm; isolation; ever-increasing work-load; ever-increasing demands of ministry; low morale; despair as vocations decline so massively; little free time; ill-health; and a lack of confidence in dealing with difficult emerging social issues in parish work”.

Younger priests “were distressed by the reality they faced: increasing work-loads; few vocations; wondering whether or why they would stay with priesthood; the difficulty of saying Mass when so few of their peers attend; and the difficulty some experienced of even attending meetings with older priests with whom they had little in common”.

There was also “stress engendered by a fear of false allegations of sexual abuse”.

“It was clear that many cases were badly handled, that many priests had lost faith in the goodwill of their bishops.”

The ACP delegation pointed out that “many priests believe that their bishops would not be supportive of them if an allegation was brought against them”.

The association also called for a national synod to address the “critical situation facing the Catholic Church in Ireland”.

The Church was urged to put forward a national plan to deal with this crisis.

The ACP also called for more support by the bishops for priests censured by the Vatican.


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