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Priests’ lovers urge Francis to re-think mandatory celibacy

A group of Italian woman who are in love with Catholic priests have appealed to Pope Francis to re-examine the rules on priestly celibacy. The 26 women, who signed with only their Christian names, wrote to the Pope saying it was hypocritical for priests to live a “secret life”.

Read more: Priests’ lovers urge Francis to re-think mandatory celibacy

Roman Catholic bishops from England and Wales call for Church to allow priests to marry

Roman Catholic bishops have called for the Church to take the historic step of allowing priests to be married amid growing signs of liberal reform under Pope Francis.

The controversial issue is set to be raised at the next Bishops’ Conference after three bishops in England and Wales spoke out in favour of relaxing the centuries-old ban. Their comments follow signals from the Pontiff recently that he could be open to change on the issue and criticism of Britain’s most senior Catholic leaders for refusing to release the findings of a survey of their views on sexual ethics.

Married Anglican clergy have been allowed to convert to Catholicism under a special decree by Pope Benedict XVI, which saw the first ordinations take place in 2011.Supporters of a change say their arrival has been welcomed by parishioners and that relaxing the rules on celibacy could help meet the shortfall on clergy as well as providing a valuable pastoral insight into family life.

Speaking to The Tablet, the Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle, Seamus Cunningham, the Bishop of Menevia (Cardiff), Tom Burns and the outgoing Bishop of Brentwood, Thomas McMahon, all voiced their support for change.

Bishop McMahon, who has a number of married ex-Anglicans in his diocese, is a strong advocate of celibacy but he described his experience of married priests as “a very good one indeed”.

He said: “I think people in those parishes where they [married priests] have been placed have taken to them very well indeed. People look to their priest as a man of God, to lead them to God.

“If he is a real pastor at their service then it is rather secondary as to whether he is married or not.

”A spokesman for Bishop Cunningham said: “He [the bishop] hopes that the Holy Father will extend the present possibilities of ordaining viri probati (married men of proven character)to the priesthood… He feels that such a move would enable the Church to make greater use of the many gifts which married men could bring to ordained ministry and it would certainly alleviate some of the difficulties that result from the shortage of priests.” He is expected to repeat his call at the next Bishops’ Conference.

Bishop Burns said that extending those eligible to serve would send a powerful message on the importance of the family. “These married men would bring a wider experience andunderstanding to priestly ministry.

Pope says married men could be ordained priests if world's bishops agree on it

A bishop who met with Pope Francis in a rare private audience on 4 April has said in an interview that the two men discussed the issue of the ordination of “proven” married men – viri probati – in a serious and positive way.

Bishop Erwin Kräutler, Bishop of Xingu in the Brazilian rainforest, spoke to the Pope about Francis’ forthcoming encyclical on the environment, and the treatment of indigenous peoples but the desperate shortage of priests in the bishop’s huge diocese came up in the conversation. According to an interview the Austrian-born bishop gave to the daily Salzburger Nachrichten on 5 April, the Pope was open-minded about finding solutions to the problem, saying that bishops’ conferences could have a decisive role.

Read more: Pope says married men could be ordained priests if world's bishops agree on it

A married priesthood would right many wrongs

The Tablet Blog: Pope Francis has indicated he is open to the possibility of allowing married priests, but as The Tablet reports this week, he says it is up to individual bishops’ conferences to reach a consensus on the issue first and then petition Rome.

Read more: A married priesthood would right many wrongs

Research By Dr Julian Randall


Title of study:

Losing an ecclesiastical vocation but retaining the calling: The disengagement of former Catholic priests and seminarians, and their subsequent career choices

Researcher’s name: Dr Julian Randall

Read more: Research By Dr Julian Randall


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