63% of priests want end to celibacy, survey finds


ALMOST TWO-thirds of Catholic priests who responded to a survey on celibacy said they wanted to see an end to the vow of abstinence, but one in five believed the pope would never reverse the celibacy rules.

The survey, carried out by Newstalk radio, found that 63 per cent of priests wanted to see the celibacy rules changed, but slightly fewer (61 per cent) thought priests should be allowed to marry.

While 61 per cent said they did not think the pope would change the rules on celibacy, a substantial proportion of those surveyed (20 per cent) were undecided, because, they said, a future pope might be willing to change the rules but the current pope, Benedict XVI, would not.

While the majority of respondents favoured both an end to celibacy and permission to marriage, just over half (51 per cent) did not think that enforced celibacy was contributing to a decline in numbers in the priesthood, while 43 per cent said it was.

Newstalk surveyed more than 500 priests but received responses from just 80. The results will be broadcast on the Seán Moncrieff show this afternoon.

Despite a majority favouring an end to enforced celibacy, only one sixth of those surveyed said he had broken their abstinence vows, 61 per cent said they had remained chaste while a quarter did not answer the question.

Slightly fewer priests want an end to celibacy thought they had the support of their congregations, with just 58 per cent of respondents saying they believed lay Catholics wanted an end to the rule.