Sunday, December 03, 2006

Let priests marry, say Portuguese

LISBON, Dec 3, 2006 (AFP)

Four in five people, or 80.3 percent, in predominantly Roman Catholic Portugal feel the Vatican should allow priests to get married, a poll published Sunday showed.

Only 15.5 percent oppose the measure while the remaining 4.2 had no opinion, according to the survey published in daily newspaper Correio da Manha.

Support was widespread among practicing Catholics, 74.6 percent of whom came out in favor of allowing priests to marry.

"The official position of the Church on this issue does not coincide with what the vast majority of people, including practicing Catholics, think," sociologist Jorge Sa told the newspaper.

Last month the Vatican rejected calls for the Roman Catholic Church to allow priests to marry after Pope Benedict XVI called a rare meeting with the top leaders of the Holy See administration to discuss the issue.

Advocates of allowing priests to marry say it would help reverse a global shortage of priests but the Church argues priestly celibacy is an important symbol of a person's commitment to a higher reality.

The telephone survey of 550 people was carried out by the Aximage polling firm for the newspaper between November 15 and 17.

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