Most diocesan Catholic priests want the Vatican to drop its ban on them marrying, according to a survey by the 'Irish Catholic' newspaper.

However, most clergy say abolishing the rule will not increase vocations.  Most of those surveyed also say they should not be managing national schools and want a greater role for women in the church.

The 'Irish Catholic' sent its anonymous questionnaire to virtually every diocesan parish priest and curate on the island and 42% of them replied.

Asked if their compulsory celibacy rule should be changed, 57% said yes while 40% disagreed.

However, when asked if abolishing compulsory celibacy would increase vocations, only 37 % said yes while 60% said no.

Asked should priests continue to manage schools, 25% said yes but 72% said no.

Asked if there should be Sunday School for children preparing for  First Communion & Confirmation, 65% said yes while 31% agreed.

A columnist with the 'Irish Catholic', Fr Martin Tierney, explained that secular celebration is overshadowing many children's introduction to the sacraments, giving rise to this demand for more parental involvement through the Sunday School system.

Three out of four priests surveyed said their Church did not give sufficient recognition to the role of women.