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Heading a southern Lebanese diocese in a complex part of the world, the one problem Melkite Archbishop George Bakhouni of Tyre says he does not have is finding priests. The archbishop knows all the arguments against relaxing the celibacy requirement in the Latin church, but he said that ordaining married men is the most naturally pastoral response to every Catholic’s need for regular access to the sacraments. “Christianity survived in the Middle East because of the married priests,” the bishop said. Because they are married with families and homes, they tend to stay, even when conflicts and hardship send many celibate priests fleeing to safety. “We always propose this to the Latin church…but we always feel a lot of reticence when we mention this issue,” he said.

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