I'm not sure how I managed to miss this important story out of England...
By Martin Beckford,
Religious Affairs Correspondent
Last Updated: 8:47PM BST 12 Jun 2008
Senior clergy are also among the 2,000 who have so far signed a petition demanding that action be taken to tackle the "major crisis" of dwindling numbers of Catholic priests.
They claim that there is no real barrier to married men being ordained, despite it being part of the Church's teaching throughout its history, given that married former Anglicans who convert to Catholicism are allowed to become priests.
And in a further controversial move, they also want Catholic leaders in England and Wales to discuss the possibility of women becoming priests, an issue which has already been hugely divisive in the worldwide Anglican Church.
They say training programmes should be set up in colleges and online to "prepare suitable men and women for ministry".
A spokesman for the organisers of the petition said: "The possible ordination of married men has been raised as an urgent matter by bishops worldwide for over 30 years, and is becoming pressing now in this country as the shortage of priests worsens, parishes are merged and the average age of the clergy rises.
"We note with concern that the number of active priests in England and Wales has declined by over one third since 1958 while the number of retired priests is five times what it was then.
"A precedent has already been set in this country by the ordination of married clergy from the Church of England many of whom were received into full communion with the Church following the ordination of women.
"We believe that the Holy Spirit may be telling us that we are not sufficiently open to the emergence of new forms of relevant ministries."
In addition to Lord Patten, the former Tory cabinet member and last governor of Hong Kong, and Baroness Williams, the former Liberal Democrat leader in the House of Lords, senior priests in Manchester, Lanchester, Orpington and Southampton have signed the petition.
The organisers now plan to collect more signatures after Masses across the country on June 29 and then hand the petition to senior bishops at a conference in November.
A couple of UK advocacy and support groups for a married priesthood: