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New Bishops' leader to Meet Radical Priests over Growing Vocations Crisis

Signalling the seriousness of the crisis and a new openness to dialogue on the part of the bishops, the new president of the Irish Catholic Bishops Conference, Archbishop Eamon Martin told the Irish Independent he would be "very happy to dialogue with anyone" who is concerned about the shortage of priests.

Asked about the Association of Catholic Priest's claim that the diminishing number of priests will result in clergy being forced to hold multiple funerals in the future, the Primate of All Ireland said he was open to discussing the situation with any group."These are issues of concern to the bishops and priests," he acknowledged.He said he was already having a conversation with priests in Armagh about the pressures they are under, their well-being and their increased workload because there are fewer priests as well as concerns about access to the Eucharist

.Archbishop Martin also indicated that under his leadership, vocations will be a priority for the Irish bishops and he said this week's meeting had devoted quite a bit of time to how they might encourage more young people to answer a call to the priesthood or religious life."I think there is this sense that no one will want to be a priest and that is not true," he stated and referred to the success of the Armagh vocations website.

Dr Martin indicated that the bishops will make a concerted effort to promote priesthood and religious life ahead of the church's special year of consecrated life in 2015.Earlier this year, figures for this year's intake of new student priests at the Catholic seminary in Maynooth showed a sharp decline on 2013. A cohort of 14 seminarians, including one trainee missionary priest, were welcomed by St Patrick's College, the national seminary in Ireland. The figure is well down from the 20 students who began last year.Separately, the Irish bishops criticised RTE's decision to cease broadcasting on its Long Wave transmitter from October 27 which will result in the station's one and a half hours of religious services being transferred to digital radio.They asked the national broadcaster to postpone the move saying it would adversely affect rural, elderly and housebound listeners whose are unable to participate in Mass otherwise.

The hierarchy also called on RTE to undertake an audience survey to determine the number of listeners to its LW broadcasts of religious programmes and to see how prepared these people are for a digital switchover.Concern"We are expressing our concern about this decision; it was taken rather quickly and rather hurriedly and in many ways behind closed doors," Archbishop Martin said.However, RTE last night rejected claims the decision had been taken "behind closed doors". "There were several meetings with church representatives ahead of this announcement. Our listeners are number one and we wanted to make this transition as smooth as possible for everyone," a spokesperson said."We reject the claims that decisions were taken behind closed doors. That is not the case."The spokesperson said a helpline was set up to deal with concerns in relation to the changeover while leaflets were also delivered to churches around the country. "People were well-informed in relation to this," the spokesperson said. - See more at: http://www.independent.ie/irish-news/news/new-bishops-leader-to-meet-radical-priests-over-growing-vocations-crisis-30631433.html#sthash.Jjs0oVXK.dpuf


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