In a letter dated July 2, 1522, and addressed to his bishop, Hugo von Hohenlandenberg, the reformer Huldrych Zwingli , along with several of his fellow priests, requested that their bishop allow priests to marry. Zwingli and these other priests freely admitted their moral failings to their bishop. In one place, for example, they wrote:
"We have been so on fire from passion - with shame be it said!- that we have done many things unseemly, yet whether this should not be laid upon those to some extent who have forbidden marriage we refrain from saying now, thinking it enough that the fire of passion alone (and that so frequent and violent as to threaten the mind) is pronounced sufficient reason for marriage.”
This rather lengthy letter, which was signed by Zwingli and ten other priests, bears the equally lengthy heading:
PETITION OF CERTAIN PREACHERS OF SWITZERLAND TO THE MOST REVEREND LORD HUGO, BISHOP OF CONSTANCE, THAT HE WILL NOT SUFFER HIMSELF TO BE PERSUADED TO MAKE ANY PROCLAMATION TO THE INJURY OF THE GOSPEL, NOR ENDURE LONGER THE SCANDAL OF HARLOTRY, BUT ALLOW THE PRIESTS TO MARRY WIVES OR AT LEAST WOULD WINK AT THEIR MARRIAGES.
Selected works of Huldreich Zwingli (1484-1531), the reformer of German Switzerland, 1901, Samuel Macauley Jackson, pp. 34-35.
While we should always be sympathetic and compassionate to the weaker brethren, still, the question is fundamentally this: was the fact that these priests were unable (or unwilling) to maintain their chastity a sufficient reason to break from the Church and attack the institution of celibacy itself?