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Former priest speaks out against Catholic celibacy

A former Catholic priest has hit out at celibacy within the Catholic church following the end of the Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse.

The five year, $342-million commission handed down its recommendations last week, including the idea of voluntary celibacy for Australian clergy and laws making it a criminal offence for failing to report abuse revealed in confession.

Former priest Paul Hegarty has spoken out today, telling Chris Smith the ancient Catholic tradition of celibacy forced him to leave the church.

“It turned out being celibate wasn’t a match for me, so I’m now a family man with a wife and two lovely daughters.

“For most of us, it’s not a match.

Mr Hegarty says he’s disappointed with the church’s response to the commission’s findings, not believing they will change compulsory abstinence.

“There are all sorts of reasons and I think the dominant one has to do with protecting the prestige of celibacy in the clerics because it does create a certain mystique.

“I grew up listening to it as the priest is someone who made a great sacrifice for the sake of God and the community.”

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Chris Smith