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Pope Francis said the Catholic Church’s thousand-year-old practice of celibacy could be changed.
In a recent interview with an Argentine publication Infobae, Francis said the ban on priests having sex was only “temporary” and that there is “no contradiction for a priest to marry.”
“There is no contradiction for a priest to marry. Celibacy in the western Church is a temporary prescription,” Francis said. “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 Catholic Church began requiring celibacy in the 11th century because clergy with no children were more likely to leave their money to the church.
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Pope Francis said the Catholic Church’s thousand-year-old practice of celibacy could be changed. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
The Vatican bans sex among priests, although it has faced calls to terminate the rule.
Germany’s Catholic Church has voted for a resolution demanding Francis to end the celibacy requirement for priests.
When the Pope was asked if he believed ending the ban on sex for priests, he said, “Everyone in the Eastern Church is married, or those who want to. Before ordination, there is the choice to marry or to be celibate.”
Francis noted that, before the interview with journalist Daniel Hadad, he had met with an Eastern Catholic priest who works in the Roman Curia and that this priest has a wife and son.
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Pope Francis said the ban on priests having sex was only “temporary” and that there is “no contradiction for a priest to marry.” (REUTERS/Pavel Mikheyev)
But his comments reveal a contrast to what he has said in the past regarding celibacy.
In 2019, Francis said, “Personally, I think that celibacy is a gift to the Church. I would say that I do not agree with allowing optional celibacy.”
He also said at the time that he believed there may be some exceptions for married clergy in the Latin rite when there is a “pastoral necessity” in remote locations where there are minimal priests.
In the recent interview with Hadad, the Pope further spoke about rising divorce rates, suggesting young people sometimes get married too early and that their marriages lack meaning. He said on the subject of annulments that he looks to remarks his predecessor Benedict XVI had made.
Pope Francis said in 2019 that he does not agree with allowing optional celibacy. (AleVatican Pool/Getty Images)
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“A large part of church marriages are invalid for lack of faith,” 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.”
“A very wise lady once told me: ‘You priests are very smart. To be ordained priests you have to spend six, seven years in the seminary. On the other hand, to get married, which is for a lifetime — because a priest can leave, on the other hand, for us it is for a lifetime— they give us four meetings,'” he continued.