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In Europe: 'Make celibacy voluntary' - Catholic priest demands

A Catholic priest in Slovakia, Europe has demanded that celibacy be made voluntary.

According to Rev. Michal Lajcha, the church needs to change her stance on celibacy and the ordination of married men.

In his book, "The Tragedy of Celibacy - The Death of the Wife," he refers to celibacy as a "festering wound" in the church, arguing that making it voluntary would put an end to further sex scandals.

Rev. Michal Lajcha with his book play

Rev. Michal Lajcha with his book

(AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

Speaking with The Associated Press, the 34-year-old said, "That's the tragedy of celibacy, the dead wife. The mission of the church is to be close to people. But how can I be close to people when I live such a radically different life? There's a huge abyss between the clergy and the laypeople."

"It's like the difference between being on top of Mount Everest, and hearing a story about it," the priest added in his book.

Referring to the many cases of clergy sex abuse, Rev Lajcha noted that making celibacy voluntary could really make things better for the church.

"It's a paradox. The church demonizes sexuality and keeps it undercover, and at the same time there are children abused," he said. "I'm not saying that it would stop completely if we have voluntary celibacy, but we can agree that the situation would be a bit different."

Lajcha is prepared to leave the church. “I want to have a family. This is unsustainable for me,” he told the AP. play

Lajcha is prepared to leave the church. “I want to have a family. This is unsustainable for me,” he told the AP.

(AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

This comes as the church is currently facing a major sex abuse scandal as a prominent U.S. cardinal has been accused of sexually abusing minors and adult seminarians.

ALSO READ: Why people leave the priesthood

Celibacy for Catholic priests

This is not the first time a priest has challenged the celibacy rules of the Catholic church.

In 2017, 11 retired Catholic priests wrote an open letter asking for the mandatory vow of celibacy to be removed and for priests to have the option of getting married.

One of the signatories, retired priest Fr Franz Decker told the media: "We believe that requiring that every man who becomes a priest to remain celibate is not acceptable.

"We think, every Catholic should be allowed to choose if they would rather be celibate or not, regardless of whether they want to work as priests or not - just like in the Protestant Church or the Orthodox church, really, every church but the Catholic Church."

That same year, Pope Francis said he is open to the idea of married priests (viri probati) as a solution to the shortage of priests in certain areas.

"But optional celibacy is not the solution," he added.

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