Healthy for priests to be able to marry: Jesuit

The chancellor of Loyola University Chicago has said it would be healthy for Catholic priests to be able to be married.

Fr Michael Garanzini, SJ, a former president of the university, said until Pope Francis opened up avenues of discussion, he didn’t expect to see change in this area.

Fr Garanzini said the issue is likely to come up during the synod on the family in October, given the public statements of some bishops, notably in England.

“It’s spurring the obvious point that one priest with a wife operates just as effectively or perhaps more effectively than the priest down the block,” Fr Garanzini said.

“There will always be a role for celibate clergy and there will probably be an opening of ministry positions to a noncelibate or married clergy.”

In an article on the Crain’s Chicago Business website, he pointed to the Eastern church practice where priests can marry before ordination.

“I don’t think it’s a huge hurdle, but I think it will take some open thinking,” Fr Garanzini said.

He said the discussion of priests marrying has come as a result, in part, of “the fallout of the priest sexual abuse problem”.

“Some good things” have evolved since then, he said, “and one is this question of openness to a priest’s physical and psychological health”.

“The second is that the hierarchy, the leadership, that we have needs to be more open and transparent and admit problems and faults as they happen and that we’re not above the law. Those two things are a direct result of the scandal.”

Another result, he said, is lay Catholics speaking up more about the Church.

“Those are tremendous positives,” Fr Garanzini said.


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