Swiss bishops’ president calls for end of priestly celibacy

Priestly celibacy

The Swiss Bishops’ Conference president has voiced strong support for the abolition of priestly celibacy, a tradition he believes no longer resonates with modern society.

In a candid interview with the Neue Zürcher Zeitung (NZZ) am Sonntag, Bishop Felix Gmür (pictured) also acknowledged past mistakes in addressing abuse cases within the Catholic Church and called for the admission of women to the priesthood.

“It’s time to abolish mandatory priestly celibacy,” Bishop Gmür of Basel told NZZ on September 24.

The bishop elaborated: “Celibacy means that I am available to God. But I believe that this sign is no longer understood by society today. Many think: What is wrong with this person? Does he have a problem? When a sign is no longer understood, it must be questioned.

“I have no problem at all imagining married priests,” the 55-year-old bishop added.

Women priests

Moreover, Gmür advocates for the inclusion of women in the priesthood, challenging the long-standing exclusion.

“The subordination of women in the Catholic Church is incomprehensible to me. Changes are needed there,” he declared.

His stance aligns with a broader societal movement towards gender equality.

“I am in favour of the ordination of women; it will also be a topic at the synod that will soon take place in Rome,” Gmür stated.

Errors handling abuse cases admitted

Gmür’s admission of errors in handling abuse cases is a striking move, indicating a willingness to confront the Catholic Church’s troubled past. He emphasised the need to question prevailing conditions within the Church, asserting that the time is ripe for sweeping reforms.

Gmür is in favour of an external monitoring of the church investigation into the cases of abuse as demanded by the Roman Catholic Central Conference.

In response to the abuse scandal, the Swiss Bishops’ Conference plans to establish an ecclesiastical criminal and disciplinary tribunal for the Roman Catholic Church in Switzerland.

However, this still has to be discussed with the Pope since such a tribunal is not provided for in canon law, said Gmür.

But, the proceedings under church law are subordinate to state law, “so they do not replace secular criminal proceedings.”


Swiss Info

Catholic News Agency

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