Pope Francis says priests under the Catholic Church may soon be permitted to engage in sexual activity, as the institution is revisiting the concept of celibacy.
Francis, who disclosed this in an interview in Argentina media site InfoBae, said there is no conflict for a priest to be married.
He noted that in the Western Church, celibacy is a short-term prescription, adding that “It is not eternal in the same way that priestly ordination is permanent.
“The Roman Catholic Church did not mandate celibacy until the 11th century. Because clergy without spouses were more likely to leave their money to the Church, the change was made in part for financial reasons.
“Because of Jesus’ example, the Church presently mandates celibacy for priests. But, as the Catholic Church deals with the fallout from child abuse scandals across the globe, there are mounting calls to abandon the norm.
“The German Synod recently approved a motion asking the Pope to lift the celibacy requirement for priests.”
However, Francis’ openness to reviewing celibacy marks a shift from his initial position when he said: “Personally, I think that celibacy is a gift to the Church. I would say that I do not agree with allowing optional celibacy, no.”
Responding when he was asked if he would be willing to have the rule reviewed, Francis said “Yeah, yes”.
“In actuality, every member of the Eastern Church is to wed those that desire to. They decide the option marry or remain celibate exists before ordination.
“The Eastern Church is a division of Catholicism that accepts the primacy of the Pope, while giving room for local customs and liturgy.
“The Eastern Church, which permits priests to wed and practices customs like Coptism, has a much lower number of documented abuse incidents than the Western Church.”
He, however, noted that exceptions may be made for priests in remote regions.
Earlier in 2019, Germany’s Catholic Church had agreed to a spate of liberalizing measures, including the blessing of same-sxxx marriages and the admission of women as deacons or priestly aides. The review was initiated in 2019, in response to the clerical abuse scandal.
Also, in an interview on Friday by Argentine media site InfoBae, Francis also addressed the increase in divorce rate, noting that young people were often too eager to marry.
“Sometimes [one] goes to a wedding, and it seems more like it’s a social reception and not a sacrament,” he said.
“When young people say forever, who knows what they mean [by] forever.”
He added: “A wise lady once told me: ‘You priests are very smart. To be an ordained priest, you have to spend six, or seven years in the seminary. To get married, which is for a lifetime – because a priest can leave, but for us it is a lifetime— they give us four.