Pope Francis has suggested that the Catholic Church may welcome a reconsideration of its thousand-year-old norm of priestly celibacy. Francis, 86, stated that the Church’s 11th-century celibacy rule was simply a “temporary prescription,” and that there was “no contradiction” in a priest marrying.
It comes after Germany’s Catholic Church committed to liberalizing policies such as same-sex marriage in the wake of child abuse scandals.
He told Argentine publication Infobae: ‘There is no contradiction for a priest to marry. Celibacy in the western Church is a temporary prescription.
‘It is not eternal like priestly ordination, which is forever, whether you like it or not. On the other hand, celibacy is a discipline.’
The Roman Catholic Church first made celibacy a necessity in the 11th century for financial reasons, as clergy without children were more likely to bequeath wealth to the Church. When asked if the Vatican would reconsider the practice, Pope Francis responded yes, citing the Eastern Church as an example.
He said: ‘In fact, everyone in the Eastern Church is married. Or those who want to. There they make a choice. Before ordination there is the choice to marry or to be celibate.’
Back in 2019, Pope suggested celibacy was a ‘gift’ to the Church and he didn’t agree with ‘allowing optional celibacy’.
He also spoke about rising divorce rates, and suggested young people were sometimes too quick to get married.
Pope Francis said: ‘Sometimes one goes to a wedding and it seems more like it’s a social reception and not a sacrament.
‘When young people say forever, who knows what they mean by forever.’