HARRISBURG, Pa. — An association of conservative Roman Catholic priests has denounced a petition signed by 160 fellow clergy in Milwaukee arguing that married men should be allowed to enter the priesthood.

The Confraternity of Catholic Clergy, which says it represents more than 600 priests and deacons in the United States and Canada, said making celibacy optional would not solve the clerical sex abuse crisis.

The conservative group sent a letter on Aug. 29 to Bishop Wilton Gregory, head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, in response to a petition circulated last month by priests in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee seeking to lift the celibacy requirement.