Many of the age-old but recently exposed child abuse problems associated with some Roman Catholic priests stem from the requirement that priests be celibate – "married" to the church ("Pope condemns critics over abuse scandal 'gossip'", 28 March). Yet there is nothing in the Bible explicitly stating that priests must be unmarried. Priests often act as family counsellors and spiritual advisers to aid their parishioners. Giving realistic and useful advice requires a deep understanding of the meaning of marriage and family which can be best performed by priests who are married and have families of their own.
The Catholic church should remove the celibacy requirement and return to the original tradition of allowing its priests to marry (prior to ordination), as in the Orthodox Christian church. The Pope also needs to acknowledge the Catholic church's and his own responsibility in allowing this long-standing, endemic problem to fester and be suppressed and ignored for so long, apologise to the victims and compensate them for their unimaginable suffering.
Dr Michael Pravica
Henderson, Nevada, USA
The militarisation of Latin America is of great concern given the context of the recent right-wing coup in Honduras and the discovery of similar plots in Ecuador and Paraguay (Letters, 28 March). Yet in Venezuela, in recent years progressive government policies have transformed the lives of millions for the better. Having already experienced a coup attempt in 2002, the country is now surrounded by 13 US military bases. We are therefore supporting the Venezuela Under Threat initiative to urge that national sovereignty is respected and the tragic mistakes of US-backed bloody military coups and interventions in the 20th century are not repeated.
Ken Livingstone, Paul Flynn MP, Tony Benn, Adam Price MP, Derek Simpson (Unite), Kate Hudson (CND) & 32 others
Venezuela Solidarity Campaign
Your article "Sex trafficking unit closed. What now for 4,000 victims?" wrongly suggests that the Metropolitan Police Service has disbanded Operation Maxim (28 March). Maxim now sits within a new command, SCD9, which has overall responsibility for tackling human exploitation and organised crime. The MPS is committed to continuing to focus on the important issue of human trafficking and SCD9 will retain the full remit of Operation Maxim. The work of the human trafficking team will also continue within this command.
The new command will also have the benefit of reducing duplication and improving leadership, governance, accountability and clarity for partners and victims.
Det Chief Supt Richard Martin
Head of SCD9, Metropolitan Police
Rupert Murdoch may find his online titles become a very lonely place ("Hurrah for Murdoch: paid-for news keeps democracy alive", 28 March). To try to add to his billions by attempting to fleece the online community seems to me petty. The public is to pay £2 a week, but having full-page ads shoved in our faces is ample payment. Pull these full-page ads, and let's see how long any publication stays in print or indeed online.
Belleek, Co Fermanagh
As a keen gardener, I am most annoyed that the Government intends to ban the plant food mephedrone because a handful of people are claimed to have suffered ill health or death after misusing it as a drug intoxication. Will I become a criminal if I stock up on it before the ban? Or will my azaleas have to suffer because of a nanny-state attitude towards a few selfish drug-taking individuals who will stop at nothing to alter their state of consciousness?
John Eoin Douglas
Once again your editorial calls for British troops to be pulled out of Afghanistan (28 March). Yet there is little sign that any of the three major parties will embrace even an echo of the point in their election manifestos, even though it certainly has widespread public support. It is not the only issue in the election but the lack of connection between official politics and public concern suggests a continuing democratic deficit.
This latest deal for Marco saddened me hugely ("And what first drew you to the turkey millions, Mr White?", 28 March). Supermarkets have wrecked our country. So-called celebrity chefs, who claim to care about locality, provenance and seasonality with regard to our food, are the very group aiding the big chains that destroy these things.
Where does this lady get her stamina ("Meet Florrie Baldwin, Europe's oldest person", 28 March)? I am little more than half her 114 years, and already running out of steam. Happy birthday, Florrie. You've run a marathon.
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