About a dozen Italian women have posted an open letter to the pope on the internet in which they claim to have had intimate relationships with priests and urge the church to abolish celibacy for Catholic clergy.
The letter was posted on an Italian online forum in March but was not picked up in the media until Global Post, an international news website, reported on it this week.
"The priest, like every human being, needs to live with his kindred, to experience feelings, to love and be loved, and also to conform deeply with another, something which he is hardly willing to do for fear of exposing himself to danger," the letter says.
The group calls celibacy a man-made law that needs revisiting and adapting to the times.
"We wonder if, like all man-made laws, at a certain time, in a certain historic time, it is not the case to discuss it again and change it or even, as we hope, completely abolish it."
Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi had no comment on the matter Friday.
- CNN's Hada Messia contributed to this report.