Monday, February 21, 2011

Seven out of ten Flemish priests oppose celibacy, support women priests

La Croix

Brussels (AFP) - Seven out of ten Flemish priests are against celibacy for priests, are for the access of women to the priesthood and don't consider themselves in line with the Belgian primate André-Joseph Léonard, according to a poll taken by De Standaard newspaper among priests in the north of the country.

According to this survey taken between the end of December and the middle of January among all the priests in Flanders (the north of Belgium) and which approximately one third of them answered, 73.3% think it would be better to end the celibacy requirement for priests.

Around 15.6% have the opposite opinion, and 11.1% didn't respond.

Moreover, 68.7% believe women should no longer be excluded from the priesthood, 14% oppose this and 17.3% didn't respond.

In addition, 69.1% don't think they are in line with the head of the Belgian church, Mgr André-Joseph Léonard, who has been in office since January 2010 and is thought to be very conservative. Moreover, 77.8% think the Belgian clergy is in a state of crisis.

The poll was conducted by the newspaper among 724 Flemish priests between December 24, 2010 and January 10, 2011, by letter or e-mail. Two hundred and forty eight agreed to participate in the poll.

The Belgian church, after those in the United States, Ireland and Germany, has been shaken for over six months by pedophilia scandals.

In April 2010, the Bishop of Bruges acknowledged having abused his nephew over a dozen years and resigned. Some 475 people have stated that they were abused by priests in their youth.

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