A Swiss woman has presented to Pope Francis over 5,000 signatures on a petition seeking an end to the practice of compulsory celibacy for priests.
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Belgian website Kerknet reported that Florentina Camartin handed over to the Pope the list of the 5,252 subscribers the petition received, along with 1,400 more in-depth reactions.
Camartin said that a distinction must be made between the core of the faith and Church traditions.
Mandatory celibacy for priest is one such tradition, introduced into the Church only in the twelfth century.
Camartin’s petition is still available on the Open Petition website.
“The mandate of celibacy for the priests of this world should be abolished!”, Camartin wrote.
“Priests should be able to decide whether they want to fulfill their duties as celibates or in the state of marriage. Married priests should also be able to return to their duties if they wish to do so”, she added.
The Swiss woman said the reason for her petition was the Church dismissal of a popular priest in Brigels, in the canton of Graubünden, who was “honest enough to openly disclose his relationship with a woman”.
“Few of the parishioners would have had a problem with him living this relationship openly”, Camartin observed.
“God himself, after all, created humans with their emotional needs and sexuality and declared that it was good”.
“There is a question of conscience for all of us”, Camartin added.
“Can we, as baptised Christians, allow that qualified, eager priests get suspended, having to abandon their parishes and endangering their own livelihood for the sole reason of failing under the heavy burden of celibacy? Won’t God ask us one day: Why would you allow that?”
Camartin is hopeful that the discipline of compulsory celibacy for priests can be done away with just as easily as it was introduced.
She urged the world’s bishops to continue the conversation on obligatory continence for the Church’s ministers.