5,000 Italian ex-priests mobilise in favour of optional celibacy

why priestly celibacy

A group of some 5,000 Italian ex-priests who’ve gone on to become married is mobilising in advance of October’s first Synod of Bishops on Synodality to advocate for making celibacy optional in the Catholic Church.

The group notes that calls to rethink the celibacy requirement have circulated in various Catholic arenas of late, from the pope’s own Synod for the Amazon to the recently concluded “synodal path” of the German Catholic Church.

Called the “Association of Married Priests,” the group elected a new president March 20, a former priest from Naples named Natalino Mele.

“In view of the synod, we’re preparing our proposal, which obviously won’t be the only one,” Mele said. “What’s happening in Germany is reason for hope … it’s an acceleration towards change.”

In a recent interview with an Argentine news agency called Infobae, Pope Francis addressed the issue of priestly celibacy. He referred to it as a “provisional” discipline in the Latin church, which is not essential to the priesthood.

When asked whether the celibacy requirement could be changed, the pontiff responded positively.

“Yes, yes,” he said. “In fact, everyone in the Eastern Church is married, or those who want to. There they make a choice. Before ordination, (they have) the choice to marry or to be celibate.”

At the same time, Francis expressed skepticism that lifting the celibacy requirement would increase the number of candidates for the priesthood. Read More

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