More woes for Ratzinger as women who loved priests challenge celibacy rule
POPE Ratzinger, still struggling to repair the damage wrought by a wave of paedophile scandals, now faces a fresh challenge, from women loved – and often abandoned – by Catholic priests.
Said one of the signatories, Stefania Salomone, 42, who had a five-year relationship with a priest:
As far as I’m concerned, celibacy is completely useless. It was introduced for financial reasons.
She argued that it was introduced for financial reasons, alluding to the fact that clergy without family were less expensive to house.
Pointing to the Church’s earlier history, she added:
People forget that there were 39 married popes.
The letter was partly a reaction to recent comments by the Pope upholding the nearly 900-year-old requirement of celibacy for priests, calling it “the sign of full devotion” and of an “entire commitment to the Lord”.
We told ourselves it was time to react.
Written in March, the letter was initially kept confidential, but late last month it was leaked to news website GlobalPost, and the women decided to tell their stories.
One, Luisa, 38, said she had a relationship – and a child – with a priest who is now 35. They met six years ago when he was the priest in a nearby parish.
He left Luisa before the birth of the child, now aged 20 months. She said:
It was very hard. His family sent him to an exorcist and accused me of being a witch. As for the bishop, he told me to have my child adopted
Salomone has no patience for the Church’s doctrinal arguments for celibacy.
There is no reason in the world to justify anyone forbidding another person a fundamental right.
Even some members of the Catholic hierarchy appear to agree. Â At a conference in Austria last month, Bishop Alois Schwarz of the Carinthia diocese urged new discussion of the issue of celibacy and the ordination of married men.
His comments echoed similar views expressed by his colleague, the bishop of Eisenstadt, Paul Iby.
And in March, Vienna Archbishop Christoph Schoenborn even said the Church should take a fresh look at celibacy when considering the possible causes behind the global sex abuse scandal.