Consider optional celibacy, Spanish Catholics tell Church

Spanish Catholics want Rome to consider talks on the future of the priesthood, including optional celibacy, the ordination of women and also married men, a key document showed on Saturday.

The document, a copy of which was seen by AFP, was unveiled by the Episcopal Conference of the EEC, which brings together the main bishops of Spain at a gathering of 600 people in Madrid.

It was drafted after months of consultation with more than 215,000 people, mainly lay people but also priests and bishops, with the proposals to be condensed into a final document to be presented next year to the assembly of bishops of the Synod at the Vatican.

They emphasized “the need to deepen discernment on the question of the optional celibacy of priests and the ordination of married persons; to a lesser extent, the question of the ordination of women also arose,” he said while noting that such questions were raised only in certain dioceses.

“There is a clear demand that as a church we hold a dialogue on these issues…to be able to offer a more holistic approach to our society,” he said.

He also stressed the need to “rethink the role of women in the Church” to give them “more leadership and responsibility” especially in places “where decisions are made”.

There was also “a need for more care” for those who were divorced or remarried or with an alternate sexual orientation.

“We believe that as a Church…we must welcome and accompany each person in their specific situation,” he said.

The document was unveiled just months after lawmakers approved Spain’s first official investigation into child sexual abuse within the Catholic Church through an independent expert panel.

The Church itself also took its first steps earlier this year to tackle alleged clergy abuse by hiring lawyers to lead a year-long investigation that will draw on similar inquiries in France and Germany. (AFP)

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