Married priests still on Pope Francis’s radar

Pope Francis has said that the issue of married men working as priests in the Latin-rite Catholic Church is “in my diary”.

Speaking to priests of the diocese of Rome on February 19, the Pope responded to questions on the issue, according to a report in the Italian bishops’ paper L’Avvenire.

At the meeting, a theologian who supports the ordination of married men, Fr Giovanni Cereti, recalled the case of the Eastern Churches, where married men can be ordained priests.

According to a Tablet online article, in his reply Francis reportedly said “the issue is in my diary”.

Another priest who was there told an American news agency he recalled Francis’s words as: “I would not store this question in an archive”.

Other reports from priests at the gathering say Francis’s “archive” remark actually concerned the plight of priests who leave to get married and later want to return to ministry.

One priest told the Catholic News Agency that the Pope “responded that the question touched a wound, that he welcomed the question and that . . .  he was not going to archive such a question”.

“Probably, the phrase ‘I would not store this question in an archive’ was misinterpreted as ‘it is part of my agenda’,” the priest said.

The Pope reportedly said the issue of married former priests wanting to return to ministry was difficult to resolve.

But it is one that the Vatican’s Congregation for the Clergy is studying.

The Holy See press office has released eight minutes of audio from the two-hour meeting with Rome’s priests, but no official summary or transcription.

Fr Cereti said the question of married priests is one of “survival” for the Church because a crisis in vocations meant one priest must cover seven or eight parishes by himself.

The 82-year-old said he had taken the decision not to marry 55 years ago “in serenity with another person who is now consecrated”.

Francis has already invited bishops to seek and propose pastoral solutions to address the problem of a shortage of vocations in countries such as Brazil.


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