Thursday, August 02, 2007

In Tyrol, parish rallies in support of priest who says he's a dad

Another news item from EUX.TV (8/2/2007) which demonstrates yet again that the laity are way ahead of the Magisterium on this issue. The banner on the right was painted by the parishioners and says "Let our priest stay."

Vienna (dpa) - In Leutasch, a small village in the Austrian alpine province of Tyrol, residents have manned the barricades in support of their Catholic village priest who has outed himself as the father of a three-year-old boy.

The boy's mother is the local parish assistant, Austrian media reported on Thursday.

In last Sunday's sermon, Father Roland Walch, 46, informed his parish that he now faced a choice of between church and family.

Far from being outraged, Walch's parishioners have rallied to his support, putting up posters and signing petitions asking the diocese to let him remain in office. Many voiced their opposition to the Catholic Church's rigid rules on celibacy for priests.

Catholic priests with a secret family are not all that rare in the western Austrian alpine province.

Herman Steidl, a diocese official, told the Austrian Press Agency that he knew of "five or six" priests in the district who were also real-life fathers. In the last 40 years, 25 priests decided to leave the church for that reason.

Being a father in the purely biological sense is not an unsurmountable obstacle for remaining a priest, Steidl said. However, not being celibate is. Ex-priests can still find employment as laypersons or teach religions instruction.

The specific case of Father Walch and his family will have to be decided by the Holy See. A new parish priest was to arrive soon in Leutasch.

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