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Friday, March 10, 2017

No, the Pope won't allow married priests



In the news: Here’s What Pope Francis Actually Said About Ordaining Married Men

Some news outlets are stating that the Pope is considering allowing married men to be priests. Unfortunately, I think this is untrue. The Pope didn't bring the subject up. He was asked by an interviewer from Die Zeit about the possibility of married men to help with the priest shortage and the Pope responded that "voluntary celibacy is not a solution". When pressed by the interviewer about ordaining "viri probati" ... men already married and of proven virtue ... the Pope prevaricated, saying "We need to consider if viri probati could be a possibility. If so, we would need to determine what duties they could undertake, for example, in remote communities". This sounds like he envisions married men as having different duties than actual priests.

This is not unlike the news last year about the possibility of women in the church becoming deacons. The issue wasn't brought up by the Pope but by some Women Religious who asked him why women could not be deacons, given that there had been women deacons in the early church. He said that a commission could be created to study the role women deacons had in the past. People were excited, believing that the Pope had decided to let women be deacons. Nope. And nothing has and nothing will come of that commission's work (see It's time to be honest about Pope Francis and women for more on this).

Pope Francis is not a progressive reformer trying to liberalize the church against the wishes of a corrupt curia (ok, yes, the curia is corrupt, but that's another discussion). Francis is a social/moral conservative. He believes that marriage for LGBT people is against God's plan, he has been dragging his feet on fixing sex abuse, he has said that women can never be priests in the Catholic church.

And given this, I am sure that, despite the fact that the original disciples, including Peter, were married, despite the fact that in the early church priests and even popes were married, Francis won't allow celibacy to be voluntary. Why not? So many reasons, but I think the two main reasons are ... the church doesn't want to pay priests with families a living wage .... and ... it is easier for the church to control a person's life when that person has no other loyalties except those owed to the institution.

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