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"Papa we want to get married"

Going to the Chapel of Love

In an extraordinary letter addressed to His Holiness, the unnamed women say they are just a 'small sample' of believers being forced to 'live in silence' because of their relationship.

The letter starts: 'Dear Pope Francis, we are a group of women from all over Italy (and further afield) and are writing to you to break down the wall of silence and indifference that we are faced with every day.

'Each of us is in, was or would like to start a relationship with a priest we are in love with.' The 26 women signed with just their name and the initial letter of their surname, plus the name of their hometown, but they did write their surnames and telephone numbers on the envelope

About 6,000 Italian men have left the priesthood to marry, compared with a total of 33,000 parish priests now in service. The Pope has previously supported the tradition of celibacy, but has suggested his position might waiver.

'For now, I am in favour of maintaining celibacy, with all the pros and cons that come with it, because in 10 centuries there have been more positive experiences than errors,' he was quoted saying in 2010, before he became Pope, in the book, On Heaven and Earth.

The Pontiff has disclosed he had a girlfriend in Argentina as a young man before choosing to become a priest.


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