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Camellini, Paolo

Carpineti, Italy, April 6, 2001

Paolo Camellini, 71, died unexpectedly in Carpineti, Italy on April 6, 2001. This Italian married priest, small but plucky, was the first man to make the married priest movement international. He organized the first international meeting in Chiusi, Italy in 1983.
He leaves his wife Carla and son Daniele.

Camellini's involvement in the married priest movement began with the work of the Spirit and a woman.  As recounted in Shattered Vows (Rice), "Carla Camellini, a charismatic, received messages from Jesus in prayer for eighteen years.  Fr. Conrad Baisi, a theologian, seminary professor and spiritual advisor studied her case for ten years and thought her charism was similar to that of Teresa of Avila.  Don Paolo Camellini was a parish priest of a mountain village in the Apennines where Carla used to take her two children for holidays before she was widowed.  She knew Don Paolo only slightly.

"In 1970, Carla went to Don Paolo and told him she had had a revelation that they should get married, so as to dedicate themselves to the cause of married priests.  Jesus had told her that he wanted married priests, but only in holiness, 'holy as priests, and holy as spouses.' "

Though devoted to his celibate life, Don Paolo wrote a letter to his bishop telling him that "Jesus asked her to marry me."  Paolo's dispensation came within a month.  When David Rice asked Carla what Jesus' exact words were, she replied, "Do not fear this choice, because it (the married priesthood) is a spot of oil that grows always bigger, and that no one can ever stop.  I wanted this mission for a renewed Church.  Because too much blood has been poured out for this my work in you…"

Ten years later, in 1980, Carla told Don Paolo, "Jesus told me it is time to go out and talk to everybody, in any way possible.  Like at Pentecost."

This is how the international gatherings began.
With permission of his bishop, he lived in an otherwise empty parish house and
cared for the people as far as he was allowed to. Don Paolo Camellini will be remembered as a very pious man, very devoted to Jesus and the Church, with courage and perseverance. From 1987 on until short before his death he edited 83 issues of a magazine of his own entitled "Hoc Facite", Do this in memory of Me, which was sent to the Italian clergy and the Vatican, too.  His name will go down in Church history as one who had a profound effect on the revitalization of the Catholic Church and the reinstatement of optional celibacy.

At his moving funeral, in the small church of San Biagio at Carpineti, 30 priests were present, the Vicar General of the diocese of Reggio Emilia conveyed the appreciation of the bishop for what Paolo had done. People expressed their love for Paolo: "Without him present it is not the same Mass", they said. His wife Carla commented: "One could see the irradiation of your, the married priests' work in one hour during that morning". She was reminded of the verse: "Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it will remain alone, but if it dies, it bears a rich harvest" (Jn 12:24). One of the priests present said publicly: "He taught us to be priests."

Paolo Camellini is buried in the cemetary of San Biagio, 30 m below the church that dates from the times of Matilde of Canossa (1074),  on the hill. He had just celebrated his 71 birthday on April 3.

Written by:
Heinz-Jurgen Vogels was former president of the German "Vereinigung kath. Priester und ihrer Frauen" (Union of Catholic Priests and their Wives), member of the Federation Board.  Vogels served as Moderator at Camellini's last Synod in 1999.

Louise Haggett is President/Founder CITI Ministries, Inc., a society of Christ’s Priesthood, now in five countries.  CITI stands for Celibacy Is the Issue/Rent A Priest which, for nine years, was inspired by the Camellinis and Teresa of Avila for nine years.  Haggett served as President at Camelini's last Synod in 1999.