Simply Spirit: Two issues important for the church are vying for my attention right now: the tragedy of parish closings and a chorus of voices calling for married priests.
For years, they have been invisible and often afraid to identify themselves. But the women sometimes dubbed "God's rivals" are no longer willing to remain silent.
Twenty-six Italian women who are married to or in relationships with Catholic priests want clerical celibacy to be overturned by the world's bishops when they meet in Rome for their global synod on the family in October.
Anna Ferretti has been married for more than 40 years, and she and her husband are the proud parents of four children. There's only one catch: Her husband is a Catholic priest.
"At first we had to do everything to keep our love secret," said Ferretti, who lives in Naples. "But it was impossible to hide such strong feelings, and we decided to make our relationship public."
Ferretti met her husband, Natale Mele, when she was a student and he was a priest running youth programs in the city's archdiocese.
There are at least three reasons Pope Francis may be amenable to the debate on whether to allow married men into the priesthood.
On Feb. 27, with permission granted by Pope Francis, a married deacon was ordained a priest at St. Raymond's Maronite Cathedral in St. Louis.
We say: A shift in demographics, including drops in the number of priests, is changing the face of U.S. Catholicism.