Page last updated at 17:18 GMT, Saturday, 14 November 2009

Bishop urges women priests talks

Bishop Willie Walsh
Bishop Willie Walsh is based in Ennis in County Clare

A Papal ban on discussing the ordination of women has been openly challenged by an Irish bishop.

Bishop Willie Walsh of Killaloe Diocese in the south-west of the country was addressing journalists in Dublin.

Alluding to the papacy which ushered in liberal reform in the 1960s, Bishop Walsh said he wanted to see "another Pope John XXIII".

Such a pope would open up discussion, particularly the exclusion of women from the priesthood, he added.

The bishop, whose seat is at Ennis in County Clare, has also expressed sadness about the Catholic Church's attitudes to homosexuality and its policy of refusing the Eucharist to couples who have re-married.

The insistence on priests remaining celibate also needed to be discussed, he said.

Bishop Walsh has already challenged another Vatican rule that almost completely excludes Protestants from its Eucharist.

He said he had never suggested to Church of Ireland members that they were not welcome to receive the sacrament in his churches.

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