A CONTROVERSIAL priest says the Catholic Church lost the contraception fight a long time ago and needed to be open to change.
Father Timothy Radcliffe addressed the National Council of Priests of Australia in Warrnambool yesterday and told the convention the church had a tendency to be too defensive when faced with modern times.
Father Radcliffe said secular people were prevented from accepting the good things the church had to offer if it in return can’t accept good things from the secular world — including the equality of all people, the value of due process, respect for gay people and the contribution of women.
He said priests had been associated with an “image of false impurity” as a result of sex abuse scandals.
He said he hoped the church would in future be simpler and less male-dominated.
“There are a large number of women today who are theologians. When I joined the priesthood there were no women,” he said.
“Lay women bring experience to theology.
“Slowly, women are being given much more important positions.”
Father Radcliffe said a starting point would be to allow women to become Deacons.
“We should be able to talk about it,” he said.
“Would people of God want their priests to be married?
“Priests on the whole are quite happy.
“There are strong arguments both ways. But lets talk about it.”
Father Radcliffe’s address was the first of the four-day convention which has attracted priests from all over Australia.
Last year the former Master General of the Dominican Order was banned by the Vatican from delivering a keynote address to the Catholic aid agencies’ international forum.