Women plead for end to clerical celibacy

A group of 26 Italian women have written to Pope Francis telling him that they are in love with priests and asking him to end the Church’s requirement for clergy to remain celibate and unmarried.

 Pope Francis: Women seek to meet Pontiff.

The signatories to the letter claim to be a small sample of a large number of women who “live in silence” and who face “devastating suffering” because of the deep love they have for a priest.

“We love these men, they love us and in most cases, despite all efforts to renounce it, one cannot manage to give up such a solid and beautiful bond,” they wrote in the letter which was reported upon by Vatican Insider.

“Unfortunately, this brings with it all the pain of not being able ‘to live it fully’. This continuous giving and then letting go is soul destroying. When this enormous pain leads to a definitive separation, the consequences are no less devastating and both parties are often scarred for life. The only other alternatives are either for the priest to abandon the priesthood or for the relationship to carry on in secret.”

The women said the priest’s service to God and to his community would be carried out with greater passion if he did not have to give up his vocation for conjugal love.

They asked the Pope to meet them so that they could tell him of their experiences, though they signed with just their first name and the initial letter of their surname plus the name of their hometown.

The emergence of the letter comes just a few weeks after a German priest, Stefan Hartmann, wrote a public letter to Pope Francis asking to be released from his requirement to be celibate while at the same time remaining as an ordained priest.

In his message to the Vatican, published on his Facebook page, he said there was “a human right to partnership, marriage and starting a family”.

“I know that my application is bold and seems to have little chance of being realised,” he wrote. “But a beginning has to be made.”

He said fellow priests had been forced to “painfully” retire for the same reasons from the priesthood.

“However, due to some of your comments , I hope that you could open a new path with the bishops of the universal Church.”

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