Bishops urge priests who fathered children to leave priesthood

priests urged to leave

Leaders of the bishops’ conference in the Democratic Republic of the Congo have urged priests who have fathered children to leave the ministry to care for those children.

The National Episcopal Conference of Congo (CENCO) recently issued a 19-page internal document, “At the School of Jesus Christ: for an authentic priestly life.”

The paper aims to “break the silence” on this issue.

The bishops, who reviewed the text during their March plenary assembly, have not yet made the document public outside of clerical circles.

In the text, the bishops express sorrow, “noting” that some priests “do not lead an authentic priestly life.”

They emphasise “the incompatibility of the responsibility of fatherhood with ministry and priestly life in the Roman Catholic system”. The bishops insist on the need for these priests to adopt “a responsible behaviour towards children born of a woman and a priest.”

They urge priests to “take complete care of them and to request a dispensation from priestly obligations from the Holy Father.”

The document was sent to all priests in the 48 dioceses of DR Congo on March 4. This was one day after it was officially announced that Pope Francis would be visiting the country from July 2-5.

Pope Francis has made the fight against all sorts of abuse in the Church one of his major battles.

While he was archbishop of Buenos Aires, Francis expressed himself on the issue in a book entitled ‘On Heaven and Earth’.

“If a priest comes to me and says that he has got a woman pregnant, I gradually help him understand that natural law takes precedence over his rights as a priest,” he explained.

“As a result, he has to leave the ministry and take responsibility for the child, even if he decides not to marry the woman” the future pope said. “Because if he has the right to have a mother, the child also has the right to have a father with a face.”

Nearly a dozen Catholic priests have been dismissed in the DR Congo this year for reasons that have never been made clear.

The press releases announcing the dismissals have attracted attention precisely because of their evasiveness.

The Diocese of Tshumbe said it had dismissed three priests in March without providing a reason. Inquiries were met with a wall of silence.


La Croix International

Xaverian International


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