A German Priest has asked Pope Francis to waive his vow of celibacy after revealing he secretly fathered a child.
Stefan Hartmann, who has a parish in the community of Oberhaid, has written to the Vatican to request it release him from his oath on the grounds that “there is a human right to partnership, marriage and starting a family”.
In an open letter, he asked to be released from the traditional oath "in acknowledgement of my weaknesses and failures, with all due humility and after long consideration of my conscience and personal situation."
In a separate post on social media, he called for Pope Francis to give him a “positive answer” to allow him to remain in the Priesthood, after his superiors requested he leave when news of his daughter came out, The Local has reported.
Hartmann said reconsidering the Catholic Church’s position on sex and marriage could increase the number of young Catholics training to be ordained.
The 59-year-old revealed he fathered a child in 1989 on a talk show in January, eight years after he took his vow of celibacy at Trier cathedral.
He said he was unable to continue a relationship with the mother of his child and kept her a secret in order to protect his position as a priest.
“I tried to walk the road of celibacy again, but since 2007 I have realised more and more that I am just not up to it," he wrote. "I have known for some years now that the oath I took after just two and a half years of seminary training was too rushed, and did not reflect the constitution of my character."
Although he has no marriage plans, the request was "above all to allow me to go into a marital partnership into which my daughter can be integrated as part of a family".
The request comes after the Pontiff reportedly discussed the shortage of priests with bishop Erwin Krautler, an Austrian-born bishop who heads a diocese in Brazil, the Religion News Service reported.
Krautler said the Pope wanted national bishops’ conferences to “seek and find consensus on reform and we should then bring up our suggestions for reform in Rome. … It was up to the bishops to make suggestions, the pope said again.”
The Vatican has not yet responded to his letter.