Ex-priest: Vatican has tough choice

Sept. 3, 2005 at 4:50 PM

CANBERRA, Australia, Sept. 3 (UPI) -- A former priest in Australia says the Roman Catholic Church will soon have to choose between clinging to clerical celibacy and having enough priests.

"I think we will get deeper into the crisis of ministry, and we are going to not be able to celebrate the Eucharist," Paul Collins told The Australian. "Mass will simply not be available to people."

Collins married after resigning from the priesthood in 2001. At the time, he said he was "changing status in the family" after 33 years with the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, because he could no longer follow the doctrines coming from the Vatican.

In his book "God's New Man," Collins criticizes the leadership of Pope John Paul II. Ironically, given that Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger took him to task for his views when he was a priest, Collins suggested Benedict XVI may be more open to his bishops than his predecessor was.

"If anyone will grasp the nettle, it will be Benedict XVI," Collins said. "I think there is cause for cautious optimism he might do something."

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