A selection of readers' e-mails on the
Pope's defence of celibacy
for Catholic priests.
I support the oath of celibacy in the priesthood because it allows the priest to concentrate on his calling.
Okechukwu Innocent, Abuja, Nigeria
I believe a married priest is just as capable of serving God and his parish as a celibate one. If priests are allowed to marry, many more young men would probably enter the priesthood. The notion held by the Pope that being celibate is "the sign of full devotion, the entire commitment to the Lord" is silly and very outdated!
Gail, West Glenville, USA
Priests used to be allowed to marry. The institution of celibacy was formed to keep property from going to children born of marriage, thus preserved by the Church. This issue is hardly significant today and is far overshadowed by the child abuse that is a by-product of repressed sexuality.
David Marsten, California, USA
If the Catholic Church wishes its priests to be celibate, then it should be much more careful of who it ordains. I admire the CC for sticking to its guns in a time when many groups are changing their stands on sexual issues. But the Church in its weakened state can ill afford all these sexual scandals.
Stephen, Tennessee, USA
In my opinion celibacy should be lifted because as it happens in Poland (a Catholic country) many priests cannot carry the burden of celibacy and they have secret lovers and even families. I think priests' training is too abstract and they cannot give help to these who seek real life aid.
Sebastian, Stalowa Wola, Poland
The Church definitely needs to be more stringent in how it deals with paedophile priests - they should be handed over to the secular authorities, and charged, not just sent to a different parish to abuse children there too.
Celibacy is still being lived by thousands of men and women, not only by priests. Just as being faithful in a marriage relationship is also being lived out. The questions I think are more to do with how a person wanting to be a priest is assessed.
Margaret Hawe, Torquay, England
I agree with Pope Benedict XVI. For the Catholic Church, it is a sign of devotion. True, there have been many who have been hurt by priests, and perhaps nuns, who have lost their way. But Catholics should forgive those that have harmed them, especially priests and nuns.
Clifford H Colpitts Jr, Sheboygan, Wisconsin, USA
I am very sad at what the Catholic Church has done, historically, to obliterate the wonderful and blissful physical/sexual side of a human being. Their sins are unpardonable. The Pope and Church must go or change radically.
Arun, Nairobi, Kenya
Celibacy is a good thing, it is a sign of total commitment to God. The statistics for child sex abuse are much lower among celibate priests than in the general population. It is not a problem of celibacy per se but a problem of a sex-saturated world that makes sex its God.
P West, Oxford, USA
I am a family man, I know how much attention I need to give to my family. A priest has one big family - he needs to give his whole attention and love to his congregation and of course to God. By the way: what about the happily married guys who abuse their own children?
Serge de la Rey, Kisumu, Kenya
I suspect that celibacy has its roots in an effort by the Catholic Church to prevent hereditary theocracy. The Catholic Church has proved throughout history it is highly pragmatic, even in the face of conservatism. After all, it is an organisation serving human needs. However, celibacy is very unnatural and priests are men.
DIM, Mexico City, Mexico
The Catholic Church has rid itself of an effective platform for power in society as a result of its ground troops abusing children, and its hierarchy all the way to the Vatican covering it up. This has been going on for decades. The Catholic Church is need of major reform and Cardinal Ratzinger is not the one to do it.
Iain, Boston, Massachusetts, USA (originally Dublin, Ireland)
The Pope says celibacy shows devotion to the Catholic Church, he doesn't say to God. If the priests were truly devoted to God, they wouldn't be fiddling with all those young boys. As a Catholic for the last 73 years, I believe that the Catholic Church has old dumb rules made up by man.
Charles, Newton, Illinois, USA