Pope Confirms Tradition of Celibacy

The head of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Benedict XVI, has firmly given his backing to the tradition of celibacy following a meeting with some of his senior advisors.

Roman Catholic cardinals met with the Pope to discuss the case of a married African archbishop, who was excommunicated last year for ordaining other married priests.

A Vatican statement has been released stating that, "The value of the choice of priestly celibacy... has been reaffirmed."

In recent years, thousands of cases have emerged where Catholic priests have left priesthood in order to marry. Although the figure, compared to the 400,000 Catholic priests worldwide, is not high enough to cause great alarm within the Vatican, the Pope called together his top advisors to discuss one particularly worrying case.

The Pope called various cardinals heading different Vatican departments - to discuss the case of Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo, the former head of the Roman Catholic Church in Zambia.

The controversial priest hit the headlines internationally last month when he was excommunicated after ordaining four married priests as bishops in the United States.

The former archbishop set up an organisation called 'Married Priests Now' and plans to hold a meeting of more than 1,000 married Catholic priests in New York in December.