Pope Francis: Priestly celibacy only a discipline, could be reviewed

Pope Francis discussed the possibility of revising the Western discipline of priestly celibacy in a wide-ranging interview for his 10th anniversary as pope last week.

Francis spoke with Argentine journalist Daniel Hadad.

“There is no contradiction for a priest to marry.

“Celibacy in the Western Church is a temporary prescription: I do not know if it is settled in one way or another, but it is temporary in this sense,” Francis said.

“It is not eternal like priestly ordination, which is forever, whether you like it or not. Whether you leave or not is another matter, but it is forever.

“On the other hand, celibacy is a discipline.”

When asked if celibacy “could be reviewed,” Francis responded: “Yes, yes. In fact, everyone in the Eastern Church is married. Or those who want to. There they make a choice.

“Before ordination, there is the choice to marry or to be celibate.”

It isn’t likely making celibacy optional would lead more people to join the priesthood, Francis said.

He noted there are already married priests in the Catholic Church in the Eastern rites.

The also said earlier that day he had met with an Eastern Catholic priest who works in the Roman Curia who has a wife and a son.

Back in 2019, Francis’s personal view on celibacy was that it is “a gift to the Church”.

At that time he said, “I would say that I do not agree with allowing optional celibacy, no.”

He also said he thought there was room to consider some exceptions for married clergy in the Latin rite “when there is a pastoral necessity” in remote locations due to a lack of priests, such as in the Pacific islands.

Francis also outlined his views on a number of issues of interest to the 21st century Church.


Asked about homosexuality, and whether he would give communion to a gay person who complied with church teaching, Francis did not give a direct answer.

Instead he said:

“… if a person is gay but is honest and seeks God, “who am I to judge?”

Parents with gay children should not kick them out, but keep them at home and “accompany them”.

Speaking against the criminalisation of homosexuality in certain countries he mentions inclusion.

“The great answer is given by Jesus: Everyone. All. Everyone is inside. When the exquisite ones didn’t want to go to the banquet: go there to the crossroads and call everyone, good, bad, old, young: everyone,” he said. The Church is made up of sinners.

Divorced and remarried Catholics

Francis has a suggestion for divorced and remarried Catholics. “I advise separated couples to go to their bishop, go and present their situation to him,” and see what the bishop advises.

Women at the Vatican

More women working in and around the Vatican are necessary because “machismo is bad. And sometimes celibacy can lead to machismo,” Francis says.

The economy

In the pope’s opinion, both the social market economy and market capitalism are depersonalising. But a social market economy, as John Paul II defined it, “I think it is the one that is appropriate to the thought of the Church,” Francis says.


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