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Page last updated at 16:10 GMT, Tuesday, 18 May 2010 17:10 UK

Bolivia's Morales urges Pope Benedict to scrap celibacy

Evo Morales and Pope Benedict XVI
Mr Morales gave the Pope an Alpaca scarf

Bolivian President Evo Morales has handed the Pope a letter urging him to allow priests to marry.

Mr Morales also asked the head of the Roman Catholic Church to admit women to the priesthood.

Relations between Bolivia's president and the Church had been strained after Mr Morales accused Bolivian bishops of lying to the people.

The Vatican did not mention Mr Morales' comments on celibacy in the communique it released after the meeting.

The 25-minute audience was held behind closed doors in the Pope's private library.

In a news conference, Mr Morales said he had given Benedict XVI a letter saying that the Church "should not deny a fundamental part of our nature as human beings and must abolish celibacy" for priests.

He said he was convinced the Pope would consider his proposals "with wisdom".

The Vatican released a statement saying there had been a "fruitful exchange of opinions on the current international and regional situation, and the need to promote greater social awareness about caring for the environment".



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