Vatican: Brazilian priests ask Pope to end celibacy

Rio de Janeiro, 21 Feb.(AKI) - Brazilian priests have appealed to Pope Benedict XVI to change a church law that forces priests to remain celibate.

According to media reports, a petition endorsed by 430 priests is to be sent to the Vatican's Congregation for the Clergy requesting that the clergy have the right to choose celibacy or not.

The document was approved at a national meeting of priests held in the monastery of Itaici in the state of Sao Paulo this week. The priests represent a total of 18,000 clergy across Brazil.

The document outlines two options for priests - a vow of celibacy, mandatory for priests who have made chastity pledges in their respective religious orders or priesthood without any obligation to abstain from sex.

The priests also ask that bishops be able to ordain married priests whom they consider worthy of priesthood, and also those who previously abandoned the priesthood to be able have a family.

Clerical celibacy is practiced mainly by Roman Catholic priests and Eastern and Oriental Orthodox bishops as well as Eastern Catholic bishops.

The priests also raised concern about allowing divorced church members to have the right to religious sacraments as well.

Brazilian Cardinal Claudio Hummes, who heads the Congregation for the Clergy, is expected to receive the petition.

He was one of the candidates to replace the late Pope John Paul II but the conclave instead chose Joseph Ratzinger who became Pope Benedict XVI.


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