VATICAN CITY, May 20 (UPI) -- Twenty-six Italian women, who say they are in love with priests, wrote Pope Francis to ask him to end the celibacy mandate and let them marry.
The Vatican Insider newspaper reported that the 26 women signed the letter with only their first name and surname initial as well as their hometown. They wrote their surnames and telephone numbers on the envelope and claimed they were all women in love with a priest.
"We love these men, they love us, and in most cases, despite all efforts to renounce it, one cannot manage to give up such a solid and beautiful bond. Unfortunately, this brings with it all the pain of not being able 'to live it fully'. This continuous giving and then letting go is soul destroying. When this enormous pain leads to a definitive separation, the consequences are no less devastating and both parties are often scarred for life. The only other alternatives are either for the priest to abandon the priesthood or for the relationship to carry on in secret."
Married Catholic priests are rare but they do exists. They are priests, usually from the Episcopal church, who were married and converted to Catholicism bringing their wives with them. One such priest is Father D. Sullins, he told the New York Times in 2012 that he believes marriage can help a priest be more devoted to his work.
"The truth is that celibate priests often have ways of walling themselves off," said Father Sullins "If you call a celibate priest's rectory in the middle of the night, you'll likely get an answering machine. But if you call a married priest in the middle of the night, and he is disinclined to go out, he will get an elbow from his life partner, saying, 'Hey, you committed yourself to this work.'"
The letter closes with, "Thank you, Pope Francis!" and "We hope with all our hearts that you will bless our Loves, giving us the greatest joy that a father could want for his children: seeing them happy!!!"