Pope Francis has raised the possibility of allowing Catholic priests to marry, calling celibacy for priests a “temporary prescription,” according to a report from The Washington Times.
The pontiff made the comments in an interview just before marking the 10th anniversary of his elevation to the papacy, a tenure marked by controversies including the clergy sex abuse scandal, homosexuality, the traditional Latin Mass, and Communion for pro-choice politicians.
Priests in the Roman Catholic Church have been required to remain unmarried throughout their ministry for 1,000 years, while married men in Eastern rite churches in communion with Rome have been allowed to be ordained.
The idea of allowing Catholic priests to marry has been periodically suggested to ease clergy shortages in many parts of the world, including the Amazon region in Brazil.
Delegates to the German Church’s Synodal Way assembly voted on Friday to call on Francis to reconsider the celibacy doctrine and consider the ordination of women as priests.
In an interview with the Argentine news website Infobae, the pope said the church’s celibacy requirement could be reconsidered, although he added that he did not believe relaxing the rule would encourage more men to consider a clerical vocation.
“It is temporary in this sense: It is not perpetual like priestly ordination, which is forever, whether you like it or not,” the pope told the website. “Whether you leave [the church] or not is a different matter, but [ordination] is forever. Celibacy, on the other hand, is a discipline.”
“Here in the Curia, we have one — just today, I came across him — who has his wife, his son [and he] comes [here],” Francis said of an Eastern rite priest who works at the Vatican.
“Everyone in the Eastern church is married. Or those who want to,” he added.