Boston Clergy Won't Seek Marriage

By Jeff Adair
MetroWest Daily News [Boston MA]
September 6, 2003

An association of Boston priests has decided not to follow the lead of Milwaukee and will not join in circulating a letter urging the Catholic church hierarchy to allow married men to enter the priesthood.

The Boston Priest Forum yesterday chose not to participate, said the Rev. Robert Bullock of Our Lady of Sorrows in Sharon, because it did not want to divert attention from the clergy sex abuse crisis.

"We decided not to do that," he said in a telephone interview. "We understand the crisis and the shortage of priest and all but we feel at this time, all our efforts should be directed toward the healing and rebuilding trust and confidence.

"We just didn't want to divert attention from this goal," he added.

Last month, more than 160 priests in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Milwaukee signed a letter saying celibacy should be optional, and mailed it to to Bishop Wilton Gregory, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Local priest groups in New York, Chicago, Boston, Pittsburgh and southern Illinois said they would consider following suit.

Louise Haggett of Framingham, president of Celibacy Is The Issue ministries, a group that has pushed the issue, believes the Boston Priests Forum missed the boat yesterday.

"It's unfortunate the Boston Priest Forum has decide to withdraw from the petition movement," she said, speaking from Maine, where she is writing a book on clergy sexual abuse.

"Mandatory celibacy is the elephant in the living room," she said, saying there is a direct connection between mandatory celibacy and clergy sex abuse. "Otherwise, there would also be a sex abuse problem with 13,000 married deacons in the church, and there is none."

Haggett, who helped to start the Mass led by married priests that meets Saturdays at First Parish Unitarian Universalist Church on Edgell Road, added that unless forward-thinking priests stick together, change will never happen.


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