Do you think catholic priests should be allowed to marry?
Emerging from the confusions of reports and “counter-reports” ahead of a conference of Amazonian Catholic bishops in Brazil, there seems to be a wide consensus that Pope Francis has signaled his willingness to consider ending the mandatory celibacy of the parish clergy.
Vatican watchers say the issue warrants special consideration from the Pope, against a backdrop of the continuing decline of ordained men to fill church positions worldwide. According to reports, the the average age of the clergy in France is over 60 years old. And this year, only 6 of 500 places are taken up in the Maynooth seminary in Ireland
To end the celibacy of the parish clergy is an easy issue for Pope Francis to resolve, because it does not require any change in doctrine. Historically, former Anglican priests at both sides of the Atlantic are considered as married Catholic priests. And the Ukrainian eastern rite Catholic churches have married clergy.
However, should Pope Francis decides to make the move, the traditionally conservative Catholic leadership around the world is not expected to willingly accept without resistance. And that is understandable. Allowing the parish clergy to marry will disrupt the economic and cultural foundation of the church in the West. Parishioners would then need to also support the priest’s family. And with marriages, there would be the unfortunate “mess” of divorces. Other clergy who have already taken the vow of celibacy might resent them for not needing to make the same sacrifice.
Commentators say the Brazilian case is somewhat unique, because the pressure to allow for married clergy is coming from local Catholic leadership. Between 1970 and 2010, the number of Brazilians identified as Catholics dropped from 92% to 65%. And the Brazilian Catholic leadership believes the lost is fully accounted for by the rise of Pentecostal churches, which allow married leaders and offer far more public roles to women..
Reference The Guardian
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