World Digest

WORLD DIGEST

October 23, 2005|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

VATICAN CITY — Catholic bishops reaffirm stance on celibacy of priests

VATICAN CITY -- The first Synod of Bishops under Pope Benedict XVI ended yesterday with an embrace of tradition, acknowledging the severity of the shortage of priests in the Roman Catholic Church but rejecting solutions such as allowing married priests.

"There has been a massive restatement of the importance of the tradition in the Latin Church of mandatory celibacy," Cardinal George Pell, archbishop of Sydney, Australia, told a news conference.

After three weeks of meetings, more than 250 bishops from around the world approved 50 propositions that will be passed on to the pope.

The synod began with unusually frank discussions of the shortage of priests, especially in developing nations. The discussions, rare under Pope John Paul II, raised hopes in some liberal Catholic groups that the bishops might recommend further study toward allowing married priests or relaxing celibacy rules.

But they restated a long-held and more conservative goal of recruiting more priests and strongly rejected changes to priestly celibacy.

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