Pope Francis: Priest celibacy not ‘optional’

Pope Francis has repeatedly said there is no doctrinal prohibition on married men becoming priests, and therefore the discipline could be changed. (AFP)
Updated 28 January 2019

Pope Francis: Priest celibacy not ‘optional’

  • ‘Personally, I think that celibacy is a gift to the Church’
  • ‘Secondly, I don’t think optional celibacy should be allowed. No’

ABOARD PAPAL PLANE: Pope Francis said Monday celibacy for priests was a “gift to the Church” and not “optional,” nixing the prospect of married men being ordained.
“Personally, I think that celibacy is a gift to the Church,” the pope told journalists aboard his plane returning to the Vatican from Panama.
“Secondly, I don’t think optional celibacy should be allowed. No,” he said.
The pope nevertheless conceded “some possibilities for far flung places,” such as Pacific islands or the Amazon where “there is a pastoral necessity.”
“This is something being discussed by theologians, it’s not my decision,” he said.
The Argentine pontiff has repeatedly said there is no doctrinal prohibition on married men becoming priests, and therefore the discipline could be changed.
Saint Peter, the church’s first pope, had a mother-in-law, according to the bible.
Celibacy was imposed in the 11th century, possibly partly to prevent descendants of priests inheriting church property.
Some within the church believe it is time to join many eastern rites Catholic Churches in permitting married men to take the cloth. Married Anglican priests keen to convert to Catholicism have already been welcomed over.
The Vatican’s number two, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, suggested in an interview last year that the church could “gradually look in depth” at the issue, while ruling out any “drastic change.”
Some 60,000 priests have given up their vocation over the past few decades, often to marry.
Pope Paul VI’s refusal to open the door to the use of the pill in the Swinging Sixties saw many priests abandon their calling.
Pope Francis suggested in 2017 that the church “reflect” on the question of ordaining “viri probati,” married men of proven virtue, particularly in far-flung places where priests are thin on the ground.
The idea is likely to be on the table at a synod this year dedicated to the Amazon, an immense territory where clergy are scarce.
Sensing a possible shift in attitude, some 300 married, former priests in Italy sent a letter to Francis last year offering to take up the cloth once more should he need them.


WHO warns ‘too early to ease up’ from COVID-19 lockdowns in Europe

Updated 28 January 2021

WHO warns ‘too early to ease up’ from COVID-19 lockdowns in Europe

  • ‘We need to be patient, it will take time to vaccinate’
  • ‘Pushing transmission down requires a sustained, consistent effort’

GENEVA: The World Health Organization’s European director Hans Kluge said on Thursday COVID-19 transmission rates in Europe remained too high, putting health services under severe strain, and therefore it was “too early to ease up.”
“We need to be patient, it will take time to vaccinate,” he told an online briefing. “We have learned harsh lessons — opening and closing, and reopening (societies) rapidly is a poor strategy” in seeking to curb coronavirus contagion, he said.
“Transmission rates across Europe are still very high, impacting health systems and straining services, making it too early to ease up,” Kluge said. “Pushing transmission down requires a sustained, consistent effort. Bear in mind that just over 3 percent of people in the region have had a confirmed COVID-19 infection. Areas hit badly once can be hit again.”
Kluge said a total of 35 countries in Europe had launched vaccination programs with 25 million does administered so far.
“These vaccines have shown the efficacy and safety we all hoped they would...This monumental undertaking will release pressure on our health systems and undoubtedly save lives.”
He said continued high rates of transmission and emerging variants of the virus made it urgent to vaccinate priority groups, but said the rate of vaccine production and distribution was not yet meeting expectations.
“This paradox, where communities sense an end is in sight with the vaccine but, at the same time, are called to adhere to restrictive measures in the face of a new threat, is causing tension, angst, fatigue, and confusion. This is completely understandable in these circumstances.”