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Pilsen Priest Removed Over Relationship With Woman Five Years Ago

By Rachel Cromidas in News on May 4, 2015 8:00PM

Rev. Brendan Curran at St. Pius V in Pilsen. St. Pius V Facebook
A local Catholic priest has been removed from his ministry over accusations that he broke his celibacy vows.

The Catholic church requires its priests to be celibate, meaning no sexual relationships and no marriage. The Rev. Brendan Curran, O.P., a prominent priest from Pilsen, allegedly had an "inappropriate relationship" with an unmarried adult woman five years ago, the Archdiocese of Chicago recently learned, and now is no longer allowed to perform certain religious duties.

Curran, who served as pastor of St. Pius V in Pilsen, has not been accused of a crime, according to church representatives. His ability to say mass and give sacrament to married people, among other faculties that priests perform, have been revoked because of the relationship he had with another adult over a period of several months in 2010.

Curran might be able to return to the ministry in the future, according to Bill Skowronski, a spokesman for the Dominican Friars, after undergoing a "spiritual healing" program under the Dominican order, the specific Roman Catholic order he belongs to.

Curran apologized in a statement on a Dominican order website, saying, "I failed to remember my ministry and my commitment as a priest, and for that I cannot apologize enough." The Archdiocese was told about the relationship by the woman involved, according to the statement.

The Catholic church's strict celibacy rules have been a source of disagreement among religious leaders and scholars in recent years, as the church struggles to attract people to become priests.

"It's a really big challenge and a reason the numbers of men joining the priesthood have dropped significantly," Skowronski told Chicagoist in an interview.

While some have argued for a removal of the celibacy requirement, which dates back centuries to an early Christian belief that those who perform sacred rituals should not be "contaminated" by sex. Daniel Maguire, a professor of theology at Marquette University, told Chicagoist it is unlikely to change in the near future even under the relatively liberal Pope Francis.

"They will hold the line, even as the system is collapsing all around them," he said, " for reasons that I find psychologically unhealthy."

Curran has irked church superiors in the past, according to the Chicago Tribune. Last fall the parish honored Attorney General Lisa Madigan, who has spoken in favor of abortion rights, for supporting its domestic violence program. The announcement came shortly before Madigan's re-election, making it seem like an endorsement of her campaign.