Allowing Catholic priests to marry could have helped prevent the extent of clerical child abuse within the church.
That was the feeling expressed by Sinn Fein junior minister Martina Anderson during a Question Time session in Londonderry last night.
The David Dimbleby-hosted show was in the Maiden City addressing topics as diverse as the crisis in the eurozone to public sector strikes. But it was the question about marriage within the church which produced some of the strongest reactions.
Earlier this week, the former Bishop of Derry Edward Daly revealed he believed that allowing clerical marriage would help ease the problems facing the Catholic Church.
Asked whether priests should be allowed to marry, Ms Anderson said it was an issue which must be “confronted and addressed”.
She added that while she did not believe there was a “direct connection” between the two, she said allowing priests to marry could have made a difference in preventing institutional and clerical child abuse.
“I think this is one element of it,” said the former IRA member. “Getting married would address that, if you allow for access in an institution for people who are, unfortunately, these kind of men.
“And if you have then the option of being married you could address some of that.”
There was strong reaction from audience members in relation to the question, some saying it “smacks of desperation” by the church to try to make up for the extent of the child abuse.