The Catholic archdiocese of Dublin is set to introduce ‘priestless mass’ before the end of the year in a bid to offset the impact of its declining and ageing clergy.
The situation in the country’s largest diocese has been described as “critical” by a senior Dublin priest, who said the new strategy might only buy the church another 10 years at most.
Fr Fintan Duffy said “Anybody who works in any parish in Ireland can see the structures are collapsing around us. We have to try something new or we’re fecked!”
The parish priest of Cabinteely, who also holds the position of parish priest of Finglas, parish priest of Tallaght and parish priest of 15 other parishes in Dublin as well as 12 in Co. Wicklow and 4 in Co. Meath, spoke after it emerged that 54 priests had died in Ireland in the past year. During that period nobody joined the priesthood.
“Last Sunday I did 8 o’clock mass in Finglas, 9 o’clock mass in Tallaght, 10 o’clock mass in Bray, I can’t even remember the other ones. I got caught at least five times by those speed cameras doing 90 in a 50 zone. I can’t keep this up. I’m 98 years old.”
According to Fr Duffy, the future will see not only priestless masses but also priestless funerals, priestless weddings and for the first time ever, priestless counties.
“All indications are there will be no priests left soon so the only way the church can survive is to let everyone say mass. Shopkeepers, guards, plumbers, barmen, women, gays, the lot. Either we let everyone say mass or there will be no more mass.”
We asked the Catholic Church’s communications office in Rome for their opinion on Father Duffy’s comments. They said they will carefully consider his words. Just not the bit about women and gays.