RIO DE JANEIRO (AFP) - A priest in north-eastern Brazil stunned his parishioners by announcing during mass that he would soon become the father of a little girl and leave the priesthood.
Father Geronimo Moreira, from the small town of Gaviao in Bahia state, said he fell in love with a local girl and got her pregnant.
"With time we noticed that our friendship had something more: love, but we always sought to leave it at the level of friendship," the 32-year-old priest said in a letter he read to the faithful during mass last Sunday.
"I said that if I could not keep my vow of celibacy, I would first leave the priesthood so as not to create a scandal in the community," he said.
"Things did not turn out as I had expected and we developed a concrete relationship, and today she is pregnant and I want to assume paternity," he told the G1 news website.
Father Moreira met the young lady, who is now 23, in 2007 when he was still at seminary.
He told G1 that after the announcement "I was very emotional and cried a lot, and virtually the entire congregation cried as well".
The couple plan to have a Catholic wedding, but this will require permission from Pope Francis, who visited Brazil in late July to attend World Youth Day.