Leading psychiatrist says priests should not be afraid to have relationships with members of the opposite sex. But these relationships must be controlled.

The National Conference of Priests in Ireland took place in Swords County Dublin over four days and was attended by around a hundred priests and bishops.

Dr Jack Dominian, a psychiatrist and Catholic theologian,  told the conference that loving relationships had not always been encouraged for priests because of the fear that it might lead to sexual intimacy and complications in relation to celibacy. He also said that fear played a role in a priest's chastity.

Fear of sexuality can be unconscious and can be a hidden motivation for seeking the priesthood.

Dr Dominian said that priests are expected to be continuously aware of their sexuality and should not be afraid of having friendships or relationships with the opposite sex.

Speaking to RTÉ News Dr Dominian said that a priest must recognise that he is a sexual person. While a priest must understand his sexuality, he must avoid exclusive and personal sexual relationships.

Like all man, he has an affinity for a relationship with women.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 18 September 1990. The reporter is Kieron Wood.