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The television version of Hilary Mantel’s novel Wolf Hall is the latest account to challenge St Thomas More’s reputation as a courageous defender of the rights of conscience. Was he, in truth, a liberal icon, a religious fanatic or something in between?
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I have no objection to there being married priests. However, such a change would be impossible without more generous financial support from the laity, unless, of course, priests would be supported by their wives. Currently, the average amount put in the collection in the Westminster diocese is some £2 per person per week. That this is insufficient in itself for maintaining our celibate clergy is evidenced by the Cardinals’ ‘Growing in Faith’ initiative. It remains to be seen whether even this will be successful in meeting current financial needs.
In the first instance it may be appropriate to encourage older married men whose children are self supporting to become priests and especially those who may have taken early retirement and are financially independent. Another means may be to have persons trained and working as priests on a part-time basis. One of my close friends when I was lecturing at university was a fellow chartered engineer who was also an Anglican Minister who assisted in his local parish at the weekends. When he retired at 60 he was employed as a parish priest. Another colleague who was ordained in the United Reform Church similarly retired to become a pastor in charge of a parish.
Penvronius Miles Cambrensis, London N17