Twenty-six women, claiming to be in relationships with Catholic priests, wrote a joint letter to Pope Francis, begging him to change the Catholic church's celibacy rules.
The opening of the letter reads:
"Dear Pope Francis, we are a group of women from all over Italy (and further afield) and are writing to you to break down the wall of silence and indifference that we are faced with every day. Each of us is in, was or would like to start a relationship with a priest we are in love with."
The letter was sent to the Vatican, and signed with a single letter of their first names, along with their hometown. The women claim to be only a "small sample" of many, many women who are living in hiding about the men they love.
Priestly celibacy dates back more than 1,000 years in the Roman Catholic Church. Some believe ending the requirement would help with the shortage of Catholic priests in some areas.
Austin Hunt is a curation editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Austin Hunt at email@example.com.
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