“Suicide is on the rise among Irish priests” is the kind of report which causes or should cause concern and a sense of crisis among Irish and non-Irish, priests and non-priests, Catholics and non-Catholics—anyone with humane instincts, empathic concerns, and an interest in the future of faith communities. Sighting it prompted this a-seasonal commentary, which overlooks natural topics for the season: elections and holidays.
This line appeared in Sarah Mac Donald’s story in the pre-Christmas issue of The National Catholic Reporter (Dec. 16-29). She quoted a leader of Ireland’s Association of Catholic Priests. Elaboration: “the vast majority of Irish priests [are] now age 70 or over,” who live “increasingly isolated and lonely lives” and deduce “that we no longer really matter.” Another said, “we’ve done our best to carry the good news,” but now are “ritually presented as bad news people, controlling, oppressing, limiting, obsessing.” Also, they are not being replaced; there are almost no seminarians in line. Temporary if partly illusory relief comes through the importation of priests from Africa, Asia, and the other places where there is—yes!—an oversupply of priests.
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