English and Welsh bishops rejected a proposal to ordain married men as priests at their plenary meeting last month, according to the Northern Cross, the newspaper of the diocese of Hexham and Newcastle.
The paper said Bishop Seamus Cunningham of Hexham and Newcastle proposed the motion on behalf of the Council of Priests in his diocese.
The proposal was rejected after a “thoughtful discussion”, he told the paper.
“Arguments have been put forward that with the declining number of priests, ordaining married men who are proven in their Christian life, would allow the faithful not to be starved from the sacrament, especially the Eucharist,” he said.
Bishop Cunningham said that many bishops noted that the tradition of the Church for more than 1,000 years was that the priesthood and celibacy, were a sign and symbol of an interior dedication to Christ and his kingdom and were intimately linked.
He added: “Any separation of them as a norm of the Church would change the nature of how we see the priesthood.”
Bishop Cunningham went on to say that “acknowledgement was made of those married priests who serve in our parishes at the moment” especially former Anglicans and members of the Ordinariate.
He said: “At the heart of the priesthood is sacrifice; the sacrifice of the Mass where Christ gives himself for the salvation of the world, and the sacrifice of the priest who offers his life for his people.
“In the context of this wide ranging disucssion, the Bishops maintained the traditional teaching of the Church for a celibate priesthood.”