Letter: Challenging Catholic celibacy

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The Independent Online
Sir: It is heartening that alcoholism and paedophilia among the clergy are being recognised by the Catholic Church structures (report, 27 August), but the philosophy of the Stroud reformatory for Catholic priests of breaking everyone who is sent there by using "boot camp" style methods is unacceptable. Especially as "patients" include those who are not in either of those categories but normal well-adjusted men who need time to think about their lives.

This tragedy highlights the situation of many men and women who are trapped by the church law of compulsory celibacy which forces a man to choose between the woman he loves and priesthood.

As a support group for women in relationships with Catholic priests, we know of numerous relationships in which this dilemma is part of everyday life. Most of the men concerned will not admit to or talk about their relationships to their bishops when they know that they will be treated as if perverted and threatened with Stroud.

The church law of compulsory celibacy, which has no foundation in scripture or theology should be challenged by all Catholics who recognise that priesthood and marriage are not incompatible, as shown by the church's acceptance into the Catholic priesthood of married former Anglican clergy.

LYNNE EDWARDS

Seven-Eleven, Coventry

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