The Bishop of Killaloe, Kieran O’Reilly, has withdrawn his proposal to recruit men only to the permanent diaconate.
The diaconate operates in many countries having been reinstated after Vatican II, including some Irish dioceses.
In August, the Tipperary Star highlighted the fact that the plan would only allow for unmarried men or married men with the consent of the their families to join the diaconate. Deacons can officiate at certain Church services, such as marriages, baptisms and funerals, when a priest is not available.
However, the proposal drew protest from women who felt they were being excluded from the ministry.
In a letter to the faithful last weekend, Bishop O’Reilly said that in the light of talks held over the past number of weeks, “I will not now proceed with the introduction of the permanent diaconate at this time in the diocese”.
He said he had listened “very carefully” to the observations and concerns raised by individuals and groups in the diocese, and it was his intention to further explore different ministries in the Church for the benefit of all the community.
“I believe that the level of engagement shown by the recent dialogue has brought to the surface a sign of the energy and commitment of many people in our church. I encourage this dialogue to continue,” said Bishop O’Reilly.