Priests who have left the active ministry in order to marry continue to have a "very valuable" contribution to make to the Church, the papal nuncio in the Hungarian capital Budapest has said.
    He celebrated Mass for about 40 such priests from Hungary attending their sixth annual meeting in the Jesuit retreat house and conference centre, Manreza, in Dobogokoe, 50 km north of the capital. The meeting, or retreat, was also attended by a bishop and a leading theologian.
    According to the priest who hosted the occasion, Fr Szabolcs Sajgo SJ, the Hungarian Catholic Church is not deeply divided over the issue of priests leaving the active ministry to marry, though there has been some criticism of their joint retreats from senior clergy, The Tablet reports.
    "If a priest leaves to marry", said Fr Sajgo, "it is not apostasy or a change of faith, but a change of vocation within the Church." The married priests complain that they are not wanted by the Church any more: a few teach religion to children, but most have secular jobs.
    The nuncio to Hungary, Archbishop Karl-Josef Rauber, said in his homily that the decision to give up the priesthood because of celibacy was painful and difficult. Most priests wanted to remain faithful to Christ and keep in touch with the Church. There was, however, uncertainty on how laicised priests could carry on with some parts of their former vocation.
31 July 00

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