“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.
“We humbly place our suffering at your feet in the hope that something may change, not just for us, but for the good of the entire Church,” they wrote.
The unnamed women met through a Facebook campaign and wrote to Pope Francis, requesting a meeting to present their case.
In the letter, they wrote that all of them were just “a small sample” of the many partners of priests “living in silence”.
It was signed with a single letter of their first names, along with their hometown.
Priestly celibacy in the Roman Catholic Church goes back more than 1,000 years and is designed to allow nothing to interfere with the close relationship of clergymen with God. It is said that St. Paul forbade celibacy as a mark of false religion.
Many people point to married apostles of old or the married clergy of today. They say that the church cannot legally impose celibacy on priests and some Catholics even believe that Jesus would oppose a celibate priesthood.
In recent decades, the Vatican has come under pressure to make celibacy optional and allow priests to marry. For one, even if we forget that it’s unnatural for normal healthy men to remain celibate for life, we can’t overlook how lifting this clause would help ease the acute shortage of priests.
But the Church rejects this argument, saying that pedophilia, whether in the Church or outside, is carried out by people with psychological problems and has nothing to do with celibacy.
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However, an increasing number of people are debating the merits of ordering priests to abstain from sex and marriage. About 6,000 Italian men have left the priesthood to marry, which is a significant portion of the 33,000 parish priests now in service.
“For now, I am in favor of maintaining celibacy, with all the pros and cons that come with it, because in 10 centuries there have been more positive experiences than errors,” he said in the 2010 book On Heaven and Earth, before he became Pope.
He suggested exceptions might be made, writing: “If, for the sake of argument, western Catholicism reviewed the celibacy question, I think it would do so for cultural reasons (as in the East), not so much as a universal option. It is a question of discipline, not faith. It can be changed.” But he added: “Personally I never considered marrying.”