Letters should include a genuine postal or email address, phone number and the style or title of the writer. Email: letters@catholicherald.co.uk

Due to space constraints, please keep correspondence below 250 words, longer letters may be published online

Let’s not damn celibacy with faint praise

SIR – JG McCann (Letter, March 9) is “convinced that compulsory celibacy is a huge barrier to dynamic leadership in the Church”; that although “being married and raising a family is also an immense commitment”, the “difference is that marriage is a completely free choice”.

One can only imagine the shock experienced by thousands of newly ordained priests on discovering that they are forced to be celibate; whereas, of course, they are well aware that embracing celibacy is inseparable from embracing the priestly vocation.

Married priests coming from other denominations have also made a sacrifice, which is to be highly valued, but it is far different from

allowing ordained priests to marry as a simplistic solution to the decline in vocations. Mr McCann admits there would be “massive pastoral implications”, but: “The way forward would be to replace the benign dictatorship of the clergy, and seriously involve the laity in pastoral teams with real power and responsibility.” How smoothly we go from the Pope ending this “massive suffering endured by the clergy … with a simple stroke of a pen” to replacing the clergy with the “dictatorship” of an empowered laity that might not be so benign.

​How to continue reading…

This article appears in the Catholic Herald magazine - to read it in full subscribe to our digital edition from just 30p a week

The Catholic Herald is your essential weekly guide to the Catholic world; latest news, incisive opinion, expert analysis and spiritual reflection