Fr Chris O'Neill, 38, who is now unemployed and living in Bedford with Monika Kacanek, and their 11- month-old daughter, says that celibacy should be an option for the Catholic priesthood.
'It is a very dedicated, very altruistic way of life that should be open to people who want to do that. But there is a case for a married priesthood within the Catholic church,' he said.
'I don't say that just because it could make a person a better human being, or a more empathetic human being, but quite simply because there are vast areas of the world where people can't go to mass because there is no priest. All over the world there are areas where a priest will only visit once every six months so that people cannot come together regularly to worship.
'The tragedy of it is that celibacy is placed on a higher level than people going to mass or communion.'
It has been estimated that 100,000 Catholic priests have left the church world-wide in the last 25 years as a result of the celibacy rules.Reuse content