Six years ago Ciril Berther was forced to leave his Zurich flock and lose a chunk of his pension at the age of 62 when he revealed that he was in a relationship with his partner, Elisabeth.
Berther co-founded Priests in Relationships in June 2005, after discovering many more people in a similar situation, in addition to practising priests who are currently living with the guilt of hiding a sexual relationship.
"The celibacy law is not the law of God but of the Church," he told swissinfo. "It is a myth that a celibate priest can give more to the community."
Berther says there are other professions, such as social worker and doctor, who can deal with being married while serving the community, so why not a priest?
"The Church law says that a priest is not allowed to marry or have children. The question is: how do you live this law? A person’s inner feelings are not considered by this rule."
The organisation has 16 members, all former priests. It aims to put pressure on the Roman Catholic Church to change the celibacy law and supports working priests who are in relationships. Around 20 priests have been in contact with the group.
Funny how a priest who had violated his vows and was apparently fornicating could talk about the fact that priestly celibacy is a discipline. Last I checked fornication is a grave sin and not a discipline.
Berther kept his relationship secret for five years, but decided to come out when the guilt became too great for Elisabeth. But he has no regrets about breaking the celibacy rules.
"Morally it was not a problem for me because I saw celibacy as a Church law and nothing to do with being a priest.
"When I started as a priest, I did not promise word-for-word that I would stay celibate so I did not make an official promise. I was happy for a long time living as a priest on my own, but suddenly I realised there was more to life." [Source]
First off how can you have guilt over something that you don’t see as a moral problem?
I guess he is also pro-torture since he has no problem with tortured reason. Did he cross his fingers behind his back during ordination? Just because celibacy is a discipline does not mean there is no problem in breaking it. Peter has the power to bind and loose and these decisions are ratified in Heaven. I wonder if he fasted in Lent considering that is "only" a discipline. I guess we can just violate any law of the Church we want to as long as they are not dogmatic.
And what about the generic "Priests in Relationships"? This sound more than just championing married priests, but also fornication and those in same-sex relationship. The relationships priests should be in is with God and working to guide his flock into heaven. As is usual in this cases is that you don’t find someone that agrees with everything the Church teaches, but thinks that the the discipline of celibacy should be changed. It almost always goes much deeper than that.