Nuptials For Priests?

A former Bishop has urged the Catholic Church to find a place in the modern church for a married priesthood.

Retired Bishop of Derry Edward Daly has claimed that allowing priests to marry would ease the tensions facing the Catholic Church.

"The ancient clerical vow of celibacy has forced many good men to decide against joining the priesthood," he said.

The 77 year-old has addressed this issue in his book called Troubled See. The former bishop worked in Derry at the height of The Troubles. An image of the then priest waving a white handkerchief on Bloody Sunday has become a long lasting image of The Troubles.

Speaking to BBC Dr Daly said: "There will always be a place in the church for a celibate priesthood, but there should also be a place for a married priesthood in the church."

"I think priests should have the freedom to marry if they wish. It may create a whole new set of problems but I think it's something that should be considered," he added.

Dr Daly said he found it "heartbreaking" during his term as Bishop when priests, or prospective priests, were forced to resign or unable to join the priesthood because of the celibacy rule.

"I'm worried about the decreasing number of priests and the number of older priests. I think it's an issue that needs to be addressed and addressed urgently," he said.

A spokesman for the Catholic Church said that Dr Daly was speaking only from personal capacity and refused to make any further comment.

The Backround

Catholic priests have been unable to marry since the Gregorian Reforms in the 11th century made celibacy compulsory.

Historians believe the move was partly for spiritual reasons, but was mainly to ensure that estates held by clerics would pass back to the church upon their deaths rather than to any potential offspring.

However in recent years Pope Benedict XVI has made allowances for married Anglican ministers to transfer to the Catholic Church after a number made the move in protest at controversial Anglican issues including the ordination of women priests and acceptance of ministers in same-sex relationships.


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