A leading academic has said the Catholic Church urgently needs to overturn its centuries-old ban on ordaining married men to ease the shortage of priests and better relate to the faithful.
Writing in The Tablet this week John Haldane, Professor of philosophy at the University of St Andrews, states: "The time is overdue to admit married men to (shortened) formation and ordination."
Professor Haldane, who is also an adviser to the Pontifical Council for Culture, likens the Church to "a vessel battered by rising waves, leaking along its length and undermanned". He calls for greater involvement of the laity, "not in the guise of para-clerics but because of its education, expertise and experience" because "it is worse than foolish not to call able bodies to the bridge".
However he said that men already ordained to the priesthood should not be able to marry or remarry, and added that "for reasons of exclusive commitment, only the celibate should be bishops".