Priests marrying helps Christianity in Iraq: bishop

aleqm5iq_n_p_znmfrupgk5u0o7gksidkq.jpgVATICAN CITY — Allowing priests to marry has contributed to the survival of the Christian faith in Iraq, said Lebanese Bishop Guy-Paul Noujaim Tuesday, on the sidelines of a Middle East synod at the Vatican.

The bishop said there were 400 bishops in North Africa in the time of Saint Augustine and not a single one after the Muslim invasion, contrasting the situation to Iraq today where the Chaldean and Syrian Catholic churches have survived.

He attributed the difference to a liturgy that was “close to the people” and the fact its priests could marry, unlike those linked to Rome.

“A married priest is like a tree with roots — the family of his wife, the clan — and its branches — his children who marry…,” he said.

The bishop, who is not married himself, said he advocated personal choice on the matter.

He said that in his diocese half the priests were married and that there had not been any “crisis” in their vocation.

He added, however, that he did not wish to comment on the question of marriage for priests in the Latin Church, the part of the vast body of the Catholic church which looks to Rome