A group of secret lovers of Catholic priests have appealed to Pope Francis to end the Church’s rule on celibacy for the clergy, an Italian newspaper reported Sunday.
The 26 women also requested a papal audience in a letter to sent to Francis and cited by La Stampa. “We are all experiencing, have experienced or would like to experience a love affair with a priest, with whom we have fallen in love,” the women wrote.
La Stampa said the women pointed out “devastating suffering” due to the secret nature of such affairs and said “something could change, not only for us, but for the good of all the Church”.
They argued that “a priest who does not have to give up his vocation for married love, alongside his vocation for priesthood, and is supported by his wife and children” could better serve “Jesus and the community”, the report said.
Francis has spoken against the rule on celibacy on more than one occasion. In April, he urged Catholic clergy to rejoice in their “ever renewed fidelity to the one bride, to the Church”.
The La Stampa report quoted from a book the pontiff co-wrote with a friend, Rabbi Abraham Skorka, when he was still archbishop of Buenos Aires. In it he said he was in favour of keeping the ban on marriage for priests, but noted it was a “question of discipline, not faith. It can be changed. Personally, the idea of getting married never crossed my mind”.