The original Spanish version of this letter can be found on Clelia's Web site. Clelia Luro de Podestá (now 85) with her late husband, Argentinian Bishop Jerónimo Podestá, is a founding member of the Latin American Federation of Married Priests.
June 27, 2011
TO: Benedict XVI
I'm here in Rome. I wanted to bring a book with me to present it here and then I will go to Madrid.
Jerónimo's life was always a life commited to the truth and the defense of human rights that were so damaged in our beloved country.
He was exiled because of a death threat from AAA -- Alianza Anticomunista Argentina. He had to live in Lima, Peru for six years.
He never wanted to resign from his priesthood nor from his consecration as bishop. He chose to go as Saint Paul did to the Gentiles. His diocese was the diaspora, that of all those who in order to be faithful to their consciences, resolved to consecrate their lives as couples. Many were suspended, but none excommunicated. All are waiting and being faithful to the Roman Tree and to their original vocation, helping men and women in the world, taking up their struggles in the political, social and religious arenas.
For 34 years, I have kept his words that today are a digitized archive within the Archivo de la Memoria in Argentina. Through his writings I have managed to finalize a posthumous autobiography through which one can know his life commitment as a priest, as a bishop, and as a man among others, until his final years. Always faithful to his consecration as bishop from which he never wanted to resign, except that he was carrying a canonical disciplinary sanction on his shoulders because Rome is still not open to what will come one day evangelically, that is, optional celibacy.
There are thousands who would fill St. Peter's Square today with their wives and children, but the Pope still can't see them.
I believe in the presence of the Holy Spirit until the end of time, and this is why my hope is not tested.
I don't just want to talk to you about celibacy, which I respect when it is truly lived out.
I just want these words to get into your hands and tell you that today's world needs the integration of man and woman as it came from God's hands. United in love and commitment to a life together, woman with the baptismal priesthood, together with man.
In the book you will find the story of a brother bishop like you, who always felt collegiality deeply.
There are so many things I would want to say to you if we were face to face and both before God, that I am leaving in His hands what my words aren't able to tell you.
Our marriage was blessed by Dom Helder Cámara. You will find that in the pages of this book.
I only went into the Holy See in 1967 when I was called by Paul VI but he got sick when I arrived in Rome, and I was received for more than an hour by Cardinal Benelli who was able to listen to me as a priest and not as a functionary.
May God enlighten the Pope so that as Jesus said, and this was also Bishop Jerónimo's motto, "That all may be one so that the world might believe." And how can the world believe if we are not united in Him?
God bless the Pope
Clelia Luro de Podestá
Photo: Clelia joins in the Eucharistic celebration at a gathering of married priests in her home in 2008.