Pope Francis received a letter by a group of 26 women who claim to be in love with Catholic priests, askig him to meet them and reconsider the Catholic Church's ban on priests celibacy.
The letter, reported by the website Vatican Insider, opens with the following words:
"Dear Pope Francis, we are a group of women from all over Italy (and further afield) and are writing to you to break down the wall of silence and indifference that we are faced with every day. Each of us is in, was or would like to start a relationship with a priest we are in love with.”
While clerical celibacy is viewed by the church as a way to allow nothing to interfere between a priest and his close relationship with God, the women claim that a priest’s complete service to Jesus and the community would be carried out with greater passion if he could count on the support of his wife and children.
As the Catholic Church faces a crisis in vocations, the general debate on the merits of requiring ordained priests to abstain from marriage is growing.
In the Eastern Orthodox Church and Oriental Orthodoxy, celibacy is the norm for bishops; men are not allowed to enter marriage after ordination, but married men can be admitted to priesthood. The Church of the East has not applied the rule of celibacy even for the ordination to the episcopate. Anglicanism and Protestantism in general do not require celibacy of its clergy and allow clerical marriage.
Pope Francis has previously supported the tradition of celibacy, but has suggested his position might change.