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‘Relax rule on celibacy’

12 April 2013

By a staff reporter

POPE Francis has been asked to consider allowing married men to be ordained to the priesthood, in an open letter sent by Roman Catholic MPs and peers.

The letter, signed by 21 MPs and peers from across the political parties, asks: "Your two predecessors, Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict, guided we are sure by the Holy Spirit, generously permitted the ordination of married Anglican clergy as Roman Catholic priests. These men and their families have proved to be a great blessing to our parishes.

"Based on that very positive experience, we would request that, in the same spirit, you permit the ordination of married Catholic men to the priesthood in Great Britain.

"In recent years we have been saddened by the loss of far too many good priests. If the celibacy rule were relaxed, there would be many others who would seek ordination, bringing great gifts to the priesthood."

The letter suggests that celibacy should be retained for bishops, to signal the "continuing high regard we have for those who are able to live a genuinely celibate life".

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