Catholic priests at odds with the Vatican
Many Roman Catholic priests in England and Wales are at odds with the Vatican on a range of issues from artificial contraception, to chastity and homosexuality reports the Telegraph.
According to the largest survey of their opinions - almost half their total number - 43 of per cent of priests actively opposed the Vatican's stance on contraception, while a further 19 per cent were unsure whether to support the Church's official policy.
The poll of 1,482 priests also found that one in four priests was no longer convinced of the need for chastity, while 21 per cent argued that practising homosexuals should be allowed in the priesthood.
The seven-year survey was conducted by Mgr Stephen Louden, a Roman Catholic priest and former Roman Catholic chaplain to the Armed Forces, and Leslie Francis, a professor of pastoral theology at the University of Wales.
Questionnaires were originally sent out in 1996 to all 3,581 secular and regular Catholic priests serving in parochial appointments in England and Wales.
Almost half the priests responded, making it the largest survey of its kind. The most recent comparable study was undertaken in 1977, surveying 412 Anglican clergy, Methodist ministers and Catholic priests in England and Wales.
Prof Francis told The Telegraph: "This contains potentially explosive information for the Catholic Church. It is a very, very interesting document." The results, which will be published in September by Continuum Books under the title The Naked Parish Priest, also reveal an increasingly liberal trend among younger priests.î
ìWhile four out of every five priests aged 60 or over took the view that a practising homosexual should be barred from the ministry, that figure fell to three out of every five among the 45-59 age group, and almost one in two (47 per cent) among those under the age of 45.î
The report concludes: "The greater acceptance of homosexuality among the youngest cohort of priests may simply indicate a greater willingness to accept alternative sexualities, or it may indicate a higher predisposition towards homosexuality among the younger priests themselves."