Religion: Keeping Vows

Celibacy is forever

There was a time not so long ago when few Roman Catholic priests dared request release from their vows. Fewer still were granted such a request. But since the Second Vatican Council, the Catholic Church has faced a flood of applications for "laicization," and agitation in favor of making the celibacy rule optional continues.

Last week Pope John Paul II stated in the strongest possible terms that the tradition, dating back 16 centuries, will continue throughout his pontificate. The celibacy rule, he declared, "constitutes a characteristic, a peculiarity, and a heritage...

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