Bishop Daly questions relevance of celibacy rule

One of the North West's best known clerics has questioned the value of compulsory clerical celibacy.

In his new book "A Troubled See : Memoirs of a Derry Bishop", the former Bishop of Derry Dr Edward Daly says there needs to be a place in the modern Catholic church for a married priesthood.

Speaking this morning on the BBC, Bishop Daly said there will always be a place in the church for a celibate priesthood, but there should also be a place for a married priesthood.

He acknoweledged that giving priests the freedom to marry if they wish may create a whole new set of problems, but it is something that should be considered.

Dr Daly said he found it heartbreaking during his term as Bishop when priests or prospective priests were forced to resign, or unable to join the priesthood because of the celibacy rule.

He said he is worried about the decreasing number of new priests, and the growing number of older priests.

Dr Daly accepted he might be out of step with current Vatican thinking, but said he was "not engaged in a popularity contest".

A spokesoperson for the Catholic Communications Office told Highland Radio this morning that Bishop Daly was speaking in a personal capacity, and the church would not be commenting.