London, Nov 9 : Priests should be allowed to marry, according to a leading candidate to become the next head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales.
The Rt Rev Malcolm McMahon, Bishop of Nottingham, said that there is no doctrinal reason preventing them from getting married.
For centuries, Roman Catholic priests have been required to take a vow of celibacy, but Bishop McMahon argued that this now seemed unfair following the influx of married Anglican clergy.
His comments are set to reignite the debate over whether the Church should put an end to the tradition in order to tackle the problem of shortage of priests.
Bishop McMahon said that such a move could be beneficial, as clergy with a family could offer different gifts and it would enable men who did not feel called to celibacy to enter the priesthood.
"There is no reason why priests shouldn't be allowed to marry. It has always been a matter of discipline rather than doctrine," the Telegraph quoted Bishop McMahon, as saying.