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US call for married men in priesthood gets cool reception

American bishops are unlikely to be receptive to a recent request from priests in Milwaukee to discuss opening the priesthood to married men.

President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Bishop Wilton Gregory told the New York Times the issue is nothing new and the Church is firm in its position.

"Since the Second Vatican Council the question of celibacy has been raised by popes and a number of synods and bishops' conferences, and I think we have a fairly clear position on the importance of celibacy and its relationship to the Catholic priesthood."

Nearly one-third of the priests in Milwaukee sent a petition on 19 August to Gregory, saying the shortage of priests ought to prompt a discussion about allowing married men to become priests.

Gregory said he has not conferred with Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of Milwaukee, but indicated he did not think the letter would prompt much discussion.

"I don't see this fostering another review of a topic that has been fairly well discussed," he said.

The Rev. Joseph Aufdermauer of Milwaukee, who helped write the petition, told the newspaper he was not surprised by Gregory's response.

"We were just asking for a dialogue," he said. "That was a fond wish, but I think I'm a bit of a realist."

Church Central

US Conference of Catholic Bishops
Archdiocese of Milwaukee
US priests urge optional celibacy (21/8/03)
Milwaukee Priests Seek End to Celibacy Rule (New York Times)
Group Seeks Celibacy Debate (Washington Post)
Effect of celibacy letter debated (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

4 Sep 2003