Twenty-six Italian women who claim to be having affairs with priests have written to Pope Francis begging him to lift the Catholic clergy's vow of celibacy. In an extraordinary letter addressed to His Holiness, the unnamed women say they are just a 'small sample' of believers being forced to 'live in silence' because of their relationship.
The letter starts:
'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.'The 26 women signed with just their name and the initial letter of their surname, plus the name of their hometown, but they did write their surnames and telephone numbers on the envelope.
The letter continues:
As you are well aware, a lot has been said by those who are in favour of optional celibacy but very little is known about the devastating suffering of a woman who is deeply in love with a priest. We humbly place our suffering at your feet in the hope that something may change, not just for us, but for the good of the entire Church.
We love these men, they love us, and in most cases, despite all efforts to renounce it, one cannot manage to give up such a solid and beautiful bond. Unfortunately, this brings with it all the pain of not being able "to live it fully". This continuous giving and then letting go is soul destroying.
When this enormous pain leads to a definitive separation, the consequences are no less devastating and both parties are often scarred for life. The only other alternatives are either for the priest to abandon the priesthood or for the relationship to carry on in secret.
In the first scenario, the dramatic situation the couple is faced causes enormous suffering to both parties: we would also like the men we love to live their priestly vocation fully, serving the community and continue the mission they have been passionately and devotedly engaged in for a great many years.
We wish to stand by their side and support them in their calling which is strengthened by the vital force of love they discovered with us.
The second scenario, that is, when the couple chooses to continue a relationship in secret, involves living one’s life in a constant state of hiding, frustrated by an incomplete love, with no hope of childbearing; a love that cannot see the light of day.
It may sound like a hypocritical situation, remaining celibate but keeping one’s companion secret. Unfortunately, however, this is often the only and painful choice that has to be made because of the impossibility of giving up such a strong love that is rooted in the Lord.'About 6,000 Italian men have left the priesthood to marry, compared with a total of 33,000 parish priests now in service. The Pope has previously supported the tradition of celibacy, but has suggested his position might waiver. He was quoted saying in 2010, before he became Pope, in the book, On Heaven and Earth:
'For now, I am in favour of maintaining celibacy, with all the pros and cons that come with it, because in 10 centuries there have been more positive experiences than errors,'Source - DailyMail