The sex lives of Catholic priests takes another controversial turn today with this story from Rome. 39 women who have engaged in longtime romantic relationships with priests have just penned an open letter to Pope Benedict XVI:
denouncing compulsory celibacy as a “torn up shroud.” In the letter, the women describe the closeted lives they lead as companions to priests and ask the pope to consider that, perhaps, their men can only fulfill their priestly duties with their lives fulfilled by marriage. “In order to become effective witnesses to the need for love, they need to embody it and experience it fully, in the way their nature demands it,” the letter said. “Is it a sick nature? A transgressing one?”
While the Vatican has declined comment, one of the letter’s authors, Stefania Salomone (above), is hardly afraid to voice her opinions. The 42-year old, who’s been romantically involved with a priest on at least two occasions, points out that reconciling faith with sexuality wasn’t always so difficult, “most of the Apostles were married, and so were the presbyteroi, the elders who exercised priestly authority in the first Christian communities, as described in the Act of the Apostles and St. Paul’s letters.”
To better help others like her, Salomone has launched a site for women romantically involved with priests. The group letter to Pope Benedict was recently translated into (often moving) English. You can read it in its entirety here, but it ends, stingingly, with the following quote from church critic, Eugen Drewermann:
The God that Jesus spoke about wants precisely what the Catholic Church today fears more than anything: free, happy and mature human life, which is not born of anguish, but of obedient trust and which is free from the limitations of the tyranny of a traditional theology that prefers to seek the truth of God in sacred scripture rather than in the sanctity of human life.
My Father, My Lover: Priests Struggle With Celibacy