Married priests not the solution to vocations crisis says Vatican cardinal

Married priests

A Vatican cardinal stated that advocating for married priests is not the solution to addressing declining vocations in Ireland.

Cardinal Lazzaro You Heung-sik, Prefect of the Dicastery for the Clergy, suggested fostering a true witness to the Faith could reverse the trend.

Cardinal You was visiting Knock for the National Conference of Diocesan Vocation Directors.

The conference coincided with the Year for Vocations to the Diocesan Priesthood, a national initiative aimed at addressing the decline in priestly vocations in Ireland.

In an interview with The Irish Catholic, Cardinal You highlighted the necessity of promoting priesthood within families. He underscored that simply calling for an end to the ban on priests marrying does not effectively address the root causes of the vocations crisis.

As evidence, the cardinal pointed to the Orthodox Church where marriage is permitted yet vocations have also declined.

Vocations urged within families

Cardinal You urged lay faithful to actively encourage vocations within their families and communities, emphasising the importance of nurturing a culture that values religious life.

He noted a disparity between those vocalising support for married priests in public forums and their reluctance to encourage their own children to pursue a religious vocation.

“I don’t want to cause any controversy obviously, but there are those who are shouting aloud. Their voices are quite loud in the public forum and they would not be stepping up to encourage their son or their daughter to pursue a religious life.”

Reflecting on the synodal process and the evolving role of clergy in a changing Church, Cardinal You addressed the inclusive nature of the Church encompassing bishops, priests, religious and laity. He emphasised the collective responsibility of all Christians to live out the teachings of the Gospel, fostering a community grounded in love for God and neighbour.

The Cardinal’s stance contrasts with recent calls from some Vatican figures to re-examine clerical celibacy.

For instance, Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta earlier this year expressed support for making celibacy optional. “If it were up to me, I would revise the requirement that priest(s) have to be celibate” Scicluna told the Times of Malta.

However, as Cardinal Mario Grech confirmed, the issue of mandatory celibacy is not set down for discussion at the upcoming synodal meetings in October.


The Irish Catholic

CathNews New Zealand


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