13 July 1913

I see more and more each day how different the world would be if we had more really holy priests. With this object I have started a crusade of prayer.

COMMENT: Fr Doyle wrote these words in a letter on this day in 1913. His was right when he wrote this 100 years ago, and hindsight has shown us that he was even more correct about the importance of holy priests than he probably realised himself.

Yes, it is popular to talk about green shoots of growth in the Church today, and such shoots do exist, in places. But one cannot escape the reality that the Faith is in decline across the West, especially in Ireland…

One of the key drivers of this decline is the unfaithfulness of some priests. It is absolutely true that there are many loyal, faithful and holy priests. But it is beyond doubt that the criminal actions, or negligence, of some priests and bishops has had a devastating impact on the spiritual lives and faith of millions of people.

We are all called to be holy, and holy lay people can do things that a priest simply cannot. But without holy priests who sanctify and support lay people the progress of the Church is limited. Fr Doyle knew this – he worked hard to promote vocations and to support priests, urging them not to settle for mediocrity, but to be ambitious in their pursuit of sanctity.

Fr Doyle himself was a holy priest who loved others so much that he sacrificed himself and died to save non-Catholic soldiers in World War 1. At a time when the priesthood is held in low regard, the example of his heroism and holiness is needed now more than ever. 

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