Rome, Sep. 6, 2007 (CWNews.com) - The Italian news agency ANSA is reporting that on September 4, a parish priest who had declared his love for a local woman and is alleged to have fathered her child held a vote to determine whether his parishioners support his intention to remain at the parish in Monterosso, Italy.
While 17 parishioners agreed with the local bishop’s statement that Father Sante Squotti should resign, more than 200 others voted in favor of the embattled clergyman.
Before the vote, Father Squotti announced that he had expelled a parishioner from the church for having exposed his romantic interest. The priest admits to being in love with a woman in a "chaste way," but denies fathering her child. He and the woman, whom he has known for 8 years, are to be engaged in a ceremony this December. According to the priest, "Canon law does not forbid a priest to fall in love or become engaged in a celibate manner. I want to remain in the Church and so I will obey the celibacy rule.”
"I believe falling in love is a fundamental stage in life. A person can't be a good priest or nun or anything else in life unless he has experienced love at least once," he said.
The priest argued in a press conference last month that the Church's celibacy requirement meant that "only the most closed and narrow-minded priests, the least humane ones, get ahead".