Pope Francis has suggested that the Catholic Church may welcome a review of its thousand-year-old practice of celibacy for priests.
Francis, 86, said the Church’s 11th-century celibacy rule was only a ‘temporary prescription’ and there was also ‘no contradiction’ for a priest to marry.
It comes after Germany’s Catholic Church agreed to liberalising reforms like same-sex marriage in light of growing criticism around 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.’
Celibacy was only introduced as a requirement by the Roman Catholic Church in the 11th-century for financial reasons, as clergy without children were more likely to leave wealth to the Church. But when asked if the Vatican would review the practice, Pope Francis said it would and cited the example of the Eastern Church.
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.’