About a dozen Italian women have posted an open letter to the pope on the internet in which they claim to have had intimate relationships with priests and urge the church to abolish celibacy for Catholic clergy.
"The priest, like every human being, needs to live with his kindred, to experience feelings, to love and be loved, and also to conform deeply with another, something which he is hardly willing to do for fear of exposing himself to danger," the letter says.
The group calls celibacy a man-made law that needs revisiting and adapting to the times.
"We wonder if, like all man-made laws, at a certain time, in a certain historic time, it is not the case to discuss it again and change it or even, as we hope, completely abolish it."
One of them, Stefania Salomone, who lives in Rome, said she had a close relationship with a priest for five years. The relationship was not sexual but platonic, Salomone told CNN Friday. The two were in love, she said, but when the priest admitted his love, he ended their relationship. Salomone said she was aware of the limits of the relationship when it began, but it was very painful to be "cast aside because of a sense of shame" felt by the priest.
She said she knows of about 40 women who were or are in special relationships with priests. Some are lovers, others "special friends," she said.
The women decided to write the letter after hearing the pope restate the church's position on celibacy in March, she said.
"We decided that it was (time) to make our reality known. We wanted to tell everybody that we exist and that we are no longer willing to always be silent about it."
The issue of priestly celibacy is not much debated in Italy, she said, but she said that's precisely the problem. A priest is "just a man like everyone else. This is a good thing. And he should not be deprived of his right to a relationship."
Salomone said she has not heard from the Vatican about the letter and doesn't expect to. "I don't really care, to be honest. The important thing is to call attention to this problem."
Thanks to Klady for sending the link
to this story into MadPriest Towers.