Pope Francis has indicated that the Catholic Church may review its practice of celibacy, which has been in place for over a thousand years. He stated that the celibacy rule introduced by the Church in the 11th century was a “temporary prescription,” and there was “no contradiction” for a priest to marry. He also noted that celibacy was a discipline rather than an eternal requirement, unlike priestly ordination, which is permanent.
The Pope’s comments came after Germany’s Catholic Church agreed to liberalising reforms such as same-sex marriage in response to the growing criticism surrounding child abuse scandals. The Vatican is now open to reviewing the practice of celibacy, which was only introduced as a requirement by the Roman Catholic Church in the 11th century for financial reasons. The Church believed that clergy without children were more likely to leave their wealth to the Church.
When asked about the Vatican’s position on reviewing celibacy, Pope Francis said that the Church would consider it and referred to the example of the Eastern Church, where everyone is married, or those who want to be, can choose to marry before ordination. He emphasized that celibacy was not an eternal requirement but a discipline.
The Pope’s current position is a departure from his stance in 2019 when he suggested that celibacy was a “gift” to the Church, and he did not agree with “allowing optional celibacy.” He also spoke about rising divorce rates, suggesting that young people were sometimes too quick to get married, and weddings were more like social receptions than sacraments.
The Catholic Church’s practice of celibacy has been a topic of debate for many years. In the past, many clergymen and women have left the Church due to their opposition to the practice. Critics argue that celibacy contributes to a culture of secrecy, abuse, and cover-up within the Church, as it leads to a lack of accountability and transparency.
The Pope’s willingness to consider reviewing the practice of celibacy is a significant shift in the Church’s position. However, it remains to be seen how the Vatican will proceed with this review and whether it will result in any changes to the current policy.
In conclusion, Pope Francis has suggested that the Catholic Church may review its practice of celibacy, indicating a shift in the Church’s stance on the matter. He stated that celibacy was a temporary prescription and not an eternal requirement, and there was no contradiction for a priest to marry. The Pope’s comments mark a significant departure from his previous position on celibacy and indicate that the Church is open to considering changes to the current policy. Photo by Didier Moïse, Wikimedia commons.