"Dear Pope Francis, we are 26 Italian priests who are writing to you to break down the wall of silence and indifference that we are faced with every day. Each of us is madly and passionately in love with ourselves and dearly desire to deepen that relationship."
This is the opening statement of the letter addressed to the Pontiff seeking a relaxation of the Church's rules. The letter was signed by 26 Italian priests who say they are just a "small sample" of the clergy who love themselves more than anyone in the world, but add that they are writing on behalf of many other priests who are "living in silence."
"As you are well aware," the letter reads, "a lot has been said by those who are in favour of optional celibacy, but very little has been said about the huge suffering caused by promises of obedience, doctrinal fidelity and service. We humbly place our sufferings at your feet in the hope that something may change."
According the letter, a priest's life would be "an awful lot easier" if priests could take concubines and "let it all hang out" a little more often. "We know that Christ spoke about taking up our cross and following Him, but we think it is much more honest of us to confess our weakness, rather than strive for virtue and run the risk of being hypocrites."
The 26 priests ask the Pope to meet him so that they can share their stories and experiences of how they currently live a double-life of laziness and half-heartedness so that he can learn at first hand "how hard it is to be good."
The letter concludes, “We hope with all our hearts that you will bless our self-love, giving us the greatest joy that a father could want for his children: seeing them happy!!!”