Irish Catholics want equal status for women in the church's structures, as well as married priests and greater inclusion of LGBTQI+ people, according to a report prepared for Rome following an extensive consultation process.

The themes emerged during a "synodal process" conducted across the Catholic church in Ireland over the last year. The information has been published in the National Synthesis of this process, before being sent to church headquarters in the Vatican.

According to the Irish Bishops' Conference, the "synthesis" is the result of a wide-ranging process of "listening and consultation," which involved all 26 dioceses in Ireland, as well as submissions from other interested parties and individuals.

Tens of thousands of Catholics have been involved in a process led by facilitators across the country, and a National Synodal gathering took place last June in Athlone and Clonmacnoise. This involved feedback from many of the "conservations" which have taken place.

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The document points to "many challenges" for the future of the Catholic church in this country, according to the bishops, "including a need for inner healing and hope".

It acknowledges the impact in recent decades of a "major decline" in the practice of the faith, as well as vocations to the priesthood and religious life.

This, according to submissions made to the consultation process, means the church is heading towards a "crisis" because of the imminent lack of priests in many areas, which has already prompted some diocese to work towards shared parishes.

Among the themes identified in the consultation document are calls for optional celibacy, married priests and female priests, as well as concerns about ageing clergy and the need for a greater role for lay people in church ministry.

Also outlined were calls for women to be given equal treatment within church structures, full inclusion of LGBTQI+ people in the church, "less judgemental language" and the need for more involvement by young people.

The document has been sent to the Vatican for consideration, with a global synod due to be held by Pope Francis to examine all submissions from all countries in October of next year.