Letter: Celibacy does not denote holiness

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The Independent Online
Sir: Celibacy - why all the fuss? Have not popes in the past fathered children to whom they presented good positions with landed revenues? And I remember when I was in Malta during the war the late Dr Boffa showed me an orphanage which he assured me was reserved solely for the children of priests.

In Italy some years ago I was having Sunday lunch at the Fior di Mare restaurant, in Numana (the Marches), when a furious altercation broke out at two neighbouring tables. A lady from Ancona accused another lady at the next table of having stolen her ring. The lady from Ancona was wont to go to confession up at Massignano, a village where there was a young, good-looking priest. There was also a large life-sized statue of Christ inside the portico, with fingers outstretched. The lady from Ancona had given one of her family rings to the priest for the statue. And this was the ring she had spotted on the finger of the young lady from Massignano.

The carabinieri had to be called. The ring was eventually restored. The bishop in Ancona transferred the handsome young priest from Massignano, where the red wine is particularly good, to a poor hamlet where, alas, the local wine is harsh.

R G J M EARL

Alton, Hampshire

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