A group of Canadian priests have publicly criticised the Vatican’s ban on gay clergy.

In the largest internal opposition to the Catholic stance on homosexuality, 19 priests condemned the church’s view on being gay and requested a new dialogue on the issue.

They wrote a letter published in Montreal newspaper La Presse opposing the Catholic view that being gay is a “disorder”

One of the priests, Raymond Gravel, told The Gazette in Montreal, “There is no reason for the ban on homosexual men from entering the priesthood.” He said the Vatican’s invocation of “natural law” to support its antigay position was not legitimate, because the Church has been wrong on issues related to “the mysteries of life” before, as it is now.

He added that the Church was contributing to homophobia with its views, and that he and his fellow signatories could no longer stay silent about it.

The Vatican is yet to comment on the letter.