Pope Francis Sets Aside Proposal on Married Priests

The decision, in a letter on Catholic life in remote Amazon areas, is a victory for conservative forces who had warned that change there would put the church on a slippery slope.

Comments: 197

  1. At the Amazon Synod people spoke continously of the importance of the Eucharist and how only being able to celebrate it once or twice a year was not a way to nourish faith. Alas, Pope Francis has decided that church discipline is more important than the central act of worsihip in the Catholic Church.

  2. Being an Orthodox Jew, a complete outsider, it seems like he decided that two hours of church prayer was far less important than centuries worth of belief.

  3. Church tradition? Priests used to be able to be married. Orthodox priests still are. As the great schism of 1054 approaches the thousand year anniversary, there's a lot of things that the Catholic church should reform. This one should be a no-brainer, but I don't have a dog in the fight, I'm orthodox.

  4. Francis feared a true schism, always a worry with two living popes, and exacerbated by the former Pope Benedict’s blindside document firmly rejecting married priests. Francis is a good and holy man. All his initiatives, from his dogged stance on immigrants to his embrace of remarried Catholics, to his fierce advocacy of sound environmental protection, these will be seen as directions Christ himself would have pursued. He, like Jesus, seems to have failed. Belief in Resurrection is difficult in these moments.

  5. What a missed opportunity. He’s not getting any younger and the promise he seemed to present to actually leave a real legacy of positive change is quickly passing him by. Alas, the RC Church is as sclerotic as ever, further sliding into diminished prestige and eventual irrelevancy.

  6. “Church traditions.” What does that have to do with theology? I grew up in the Catholic Church, attended the University of Notre Dame in the 1970s when there was still hope the Church would throw off the worst of the accumulated cultural detritus like male chauvinism and the hoarding of worldly treasure that flew in the face of both the earliest history of Christianity and of any identifiable theological justification. And before we knew what we know now about the paedophilia that is in so many ways a consequence of those abominations. What a sad day and a missed opportunity this is to push back on the reactionaries that want to take the Church back to the point 300 years after Jesus walked the earth when the Church became a Western civil institution and lost the soul of Christ’s mission.

  7. All moves to keep the Catholic Church in the middle ages are more than welcome, as they contribute to its ultimate downfall. It is the reformist we should be weary of, due to their ability to whitewash the past and make the same old ideas appealing to a new flock.

  8. This is a shame. We receive so many mixed messages. It is time to officially divide the church into conservative and progressive divisions. The current set up divides it between conservative and out the door. So many ex Catholics in other religions.

  9. I think the Pope may want to revisit the Bible. Nowhere does it state pastors and/or priests cannot marry. 1st Corinthians 7:9 states the Bible's message on marriage.

  10. it doesn't matter, the corrupt hardcore segment of the church's hierarchy is controlling the narrative. the Pope is trying to navigate a very difficult political situation, he may not have the power dynamic in his favor.

  11. "pontificate that is largely talk.". couldn't have said it better myself. Traditional religious leaders here to the faith and the doctrine. Don't get side tracked by the noise. Look at the signal; everything must stay unchanged.

  12. What a tragedy!! - The growth of Evangelicals and Charismatic Catholics will only continue to grow at explosive rates, and so far what we see when these religious leaders enter the political fray, even worse social conflicts are arising. The Vatican and international community are abandoning South America in droves as China and home-grown radical churches are springing up across the region. Respond to THEIR needs Papa - or they will continue to abandon the Roman Catholic Church; albeit this is not a big distinction as both are such biased, politically charged organizations. But what I see of the Evangelical movement it far worse in it's various mutations across villages.

  13. The ranks of the clergy continue to shrink and the Church continues to keep its head in the sand.

  14. Profoundly disappointed, saddened, but not surprised. Preserving hegemony through antiquated, ignorant beliefs is no way to serve Christ or the people of the Church who are the Church. The arrogant, patronizing, and condescending position and tone of these men who should have been humbled by their own sins of omission and commission is breathtaking.

  15. A shame. This will happen, or the church will go away, and I was a Catholic.

  16. I am Orthodox and we ordain married priests, but they must already be married before ordination. This pertains to Deacons as well. Bishops cannot marry at all. Pope Francis needs to study this practice and consider if it would be feasible to apply it to the Catholic church. We have much fewer problems than the Roman Catholics.

  17. Also yesterday the pope announced that he had decided against letting women serve as deacons, which could also have addressed some issues of ministering in remote areas.

  18. Who else is reminded of Susan Collins? The waffling is baffling until it is not. Another Lent and Easter is coming during which I feel Church doors are not opened to the likes of me. At least it's a mere one-step-forward-one-step-back, instead of two steps back.

  19. What a terrible shame. The Catholic Church has become associated (at least in the West) with a form of right wing extremism that has driven the moral faithful into the desert of social media. We are well past forty days and there is no relief in sight. The Church atones for years of great sins perpetrated against the young and women by remaining stone deaf to moral change that might bring the faithful closer to God. Imagine how recognition of married life as a blessing might alter the Church? After all, were humans created to live alone and celebrate? Is procreation not one of the greatest miracles from above? Are the blessings of married life sinful? Better to copulate outside of marriage? Or is this simply a political move, another sin? As Pope Francis capitulates to the extremes in his Church, members slowly walk away, looking for inspiration elsewhere. Facebook? Evangelical Pastors on TV? Agnosticism?

  20. @et.al.nyc Atheism and agnosticism are good alternatives.

  21. @et.al.nyc You think the Church doesn't recognize married life as a blessing? It is to laugh. Marriage is literally a sacrament, representing the mystical union between Christ and the Church. What higher blessing could there be?

  22. Call this what it is institutional corruption the process in which an institution is controlled by a small elite who use their power to maintain the status quo which protects their power at any cost to that institution's viability. Those who worship within the Roman Catholic church do so at the altar of the Status Quo. This is complete contradiction of the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth and his original followers. Pope Frances has proven himself irrelevant to the world we live in.

  23. @AH2 "Call this what it is institutional corruption the process in which an institution is controlled by a small elite who use their power to maintain the status quo which protects their power at any cost to that institution's viability." It sounds a lot like the Republican party (the minority) and the oligarchs.

  24. This is a purely political decision ... not a moral teaching. As such, it is a defeat for the traditionalists, who wish to reaffirm a lost belief in the Pope as the designated spokesperson for God. It is a victory for an emerging 2-party system within the church leadership -- one whose workings are no longer concealed, and whose existence counteracts the core philosophy of the traditionalists.

  25. Ordaining married priests to solve the problem of a shortage of priests is just a band aid on a more fundamental crisis: the lack of vocation among Catholics, especially the young. Jesus asked his followers to leave everything behind, including family, and to follow him. Whoever leaves his brothers and sisters and follow me will be rewarded with a thousand brothers and sisters. The gospel (good news) was so important that it was worth leaving everything behind to preach it. The shortage of priests is an existential threat but the easy solutions may not solve the long term issues. I am impressed by the interest of the New York Times community in the health and expansion of the Catholic Church around the world. I had the impression that most were for the erosion and dissappearance of the Catholic Church.

  26. One can be interested in the erosion and disappearance of the Catholic Church and write about it too.

  27. @3Rs I thought that the priesthood was a good place to send extra sons who did not quite conform. And a large family could sacrifice their daughters to become nuns. The family was looked upon with reverence, like what was depicted in Saturday Night Fever, to my not Catholic understanding. What do you make of priests who accumulate great wealth? Vacation homes and the like. Meanwhile it is the nuns who are literally begging to be taken care of in their senior years. What's up with that?

  28. We can thank conservatives like Dolan, Chaput and Burke who fight Francis at every point as he tries to improve the Church. There are plenty of secretly married Priests, especially in the Mid-East. The best way to fight back is to withhold all donations. By donating we are only subsidizing the likes of the trio mentioned above.

  29. The church originally allowed priests to marry, then some pope decided that if a priest didn't wed then the church would inherit any estate that the priest owned, making the church richer. If Francis was smart he would bring back the old ways.

  30. Obviously the Church is not going to change with Pope Francis. He undoubtedly has no support among conservatives for this issue and many others that need to be addressed. Perhaps what is needed is the Church at the top echelons are too old and rules should should be put in place to retire cardinals at age 65-70, just like any other job. Essentially it's important that the church have a far younger leadership and the ongoing lessons of sexual abuse by many in the church stretch back decades and defended against by older clergy. Undoubtedly there are other areas where the church can grow by giving women prominent roles in the church including the upper reaches of the Church to monitor various key functions and create doctrine. Ordaining women will not be possible in Pope Francis' era but he is trying to tear down barriers across the church to allow it to reinvigorate it. Is it too already too late in a social media world?

  31. @Other , I don't see why there should be a mandatory retirement age. After all, being a priest is not the same as being a bus driver or airline pilot, where safety is a legitimate issue.

  32. Surely there are weightier issues in life after ordination than this. Ordination, itself, puzzles many of us. Why do people insist on an intermediary between themselves and their "God"? Is it because, "He" is inaccessible or makes himself inaccessible?

  33. @Glenn Thomas , it's because these intermediaries spend a whole lot more time studying the bible than ordinary people. Whereas I spend an average of one hour per week in mass, priests dedicate their entire lives to studying the bible.

  34. The RC church will never extract itself from its abuse scandal nor find its way into relevance for modern life if it does not allow priests, both straight and gay, to marry as well as ordaining women to the priesthood and allowing them to become bishops. When will this happen? It took them three centuries to pardon Galileo; I'm not holding my breath about the removal of the antiquated vow of celibacy (which is not practiced by 50% of the clergy, anyhow). In the meantime, many immigrants from Central and South American here in Florida will continue to abandon the RC church for Protestant Evangelical denominations.

  35. The patriarch protects the patriarchy at the expense of his publicly professed principles. I wish I could say I was surprised.

  36. It’s all about the money—the cost of families and the misogynistic fear that wives will wield a greater influence. But, really, it’s the money.

  37. "The thrashing of church traditions." Give me a break. The thrashing of church traditions came when the practices of the early church were replaced by patriarchy and calcified into the husk of institutional preservation that we have now. Most organized churches that call themselves Christian would have nothing to do with anyone resembling the historical Jesus. "Love one another" was his most radical teaching. We sure messed that one up.

  38. I left the Catholic church because I decided to stand by the abuse victims. The money I gave to the church went to hire an army of lawyers to continue to defend the pedophile priests and hide their names. It took courage and a lot of soul searching to leave the church, but in the end I believe I did the right thing. Jesus does not live in the Catholic church. He was a revolutionary who sacrificed Himself to show us the truth. I believe I am following in his path to do what is moral and right thing to do. In the end, I think it is all about the money. If enough people stopped going to the church or stopped giving money, the church will change its ways in no time.

  39. Of course no consideration was also given to making women deacons or increasing their ability to handle the sacraments in remote places. God forbid women gain more influence in this anachronistic organization.

  40. @Daphne philipson I'm not a Catholic so have no dog in this race, but this was my thought as well. I don't understand what is wrong with married priests - but have a stronger reaction to women being relegated to inferior roles in the church organization, and wish this would get more press.

  41. @Susi I am also not Catholic, but due to the size and wealth of the Catholic church, we all have a dog in this race. The Catholic church wields influence over politics and economies worldwide on a macro level They can also have a profound effect on individuals. They affected me: A priestly Catholic court had the temerity to annul my non-Catholic marriage that had lasted 24 years and produced two wonderful children. We should all be paying attention to organizations with worldwide power and the arrogance to judge others.

  42. What a shame! Considering that marriage was never forbidden by the early Church and was only forbidden in 1139! The Church was already over a thousand years old by the time it decided to require priests to be celibate. Maybe some should look towards the Anglican/Episcopal Church, which allows the marriage of its priests, or the Orthodox Church, which will ordain married men as priests (although single priests cannot marry).

  43. He just couldn't bring himself to do it. Could not turn his back on his 1950s mindset and who brought him to the party, no matter how "liberal" he may appear. I look around my R.C. church at Mass every Sunday, at all the gray hair. In 10 years, most everyone of that age will be gone -- priests included -- and there are very few young people to replace them. The seeds of the Church's implosion into irrelevance are truly planted with this non-decision.

  44. @JTS , which church is that? I go to a RC church in River Edge, NJ and that's not a problem. Plenty of young adults and children at mass there.

  45. The photo caption reads: "In remote Amazon communities, villagers can go for months without sacraments that only priests are allowed to deliver." This is incorrect. With the exception of a few sacraments that Catholics rarely receive (or in the case or Ordination, half are not eligible for :) ), the typical sacraments -- baptism, communion, and communion and a blessing if near death can be given by lay Catholics. I have no problem with married priests but maybe the Pope is trying to light a much needed fuse under Catholics to take control of their own soul. No priest required

  46. @Dennis Byron Laymen can baptize in an emergency, but they cannot consecrate the Eucharist or absolve from sins.

  47. @Maggie , actually anybody can baptize (emergency or not), as long as there are witnesses. For Protestants who become Catholic, the church does recognize their baptisms, which most likely took place in a protestant church.

  48. @Julian Thank you for the correction. I see you're fighting the good fight in the comments on this piece.

  49. So....we are going to keep with some traditions that no longer make much sense while still mostly ignoring Christ's message of love for all (even our enemies) and having mercy for the poor, the sick, the stranger. It is time to return to the Church's radical beginning where we shared all with our brothers and sisters.

  50. "a slippery slope to the thrashing of church traditions" Um, I live in the Boston area and I recall some "traditions" in my lifetime that were thankfully addressed.

  51. There would be happier priests allowed to have a loved one and family if allowed to marry. Being celibate is an old fashioned idea that you are closer to God. People who are not priests by the way are close to God!

  52. The Church had married Priests for almost 600 years? This so called tradition was evolved by corrupt officials to ensure property was inherited by the Church.

  53. @Ron And in 2020, there are many married Catholic priests too functioning just fine, including those who came from other faiths and converted and those who have for centuries allowed to be married like Greek Catholic church (not Greek Orthodox, but Greek Catholic which is under Rome).

  54. Have the traditions that supposedly would be put in jeopardy been articulated?

  55. I was born in Kerala, India where Hindus, Muslims, Christians and Jews lived harmoniously for a couple of Millennia. I understand that Jews came to India before Jesus. There are lots of Catholic churches and celibate priests in Kerala. I was born in a priestly Hindu family but educated in a Catholic Christian boys school. I had many priests as teachers. There was a girl's school nearby where some teachers were nuns. Unlike in Hinduism catholics had to observe celibacy to be priests. This was a form of sacrifice. Parents made the decision to make some of their children priests or nuns. So there was a kind of frog-boiling from early childhood that extolled the virtues of sacrifice and priesthood to get them to attend seminaries that had strict rules of behavior and rigorous discipline. By and large the system worked. These children grew up with extreme devotion and dedication to service. But there was an occasional story of a nun getting pregnant or Reverend Father sexually abusing boys and girls. Remember this was when there was no internet and widespread pornography. Society did not tolerate such immoral activities. There was no sex-education. Most of us grew up without knowing much about the birds and the bees. The world has changed. Once boys and girls taste blood, it is difficult to ask them to stay away from it. Thus it is impossible to depend upon a few who are naturally not attracted to any form of sexual activity to have priests. The pope ought to know this.

  56. It's as if the Titanic is sinking yet more ballast is being added. A corrupt institution that deserves a similar role as it's deity: nonexistence.

  57. Given that priestly celibacy came late to the Catholic Church, it's curious how desperately the modern Church clings to it - along with its insistence that women cannot possibly be priests....or even deacons. The movement for the ordination of women made it clear that for the Church, it's more important that Christ became male than that He became human. So...is Christianity just some sort of men's club ?

  58. @Oriole Sad to say it is exactly that.

  59. The church is continue to serve self and own traditions. It doesn't serve either God or the people. Why would anybody serve the Almighty? It is not logical nor justifiable. Actually there should be no church and no clergy and no religions. There is only one God and one faith. Everything else was created by the mortal humans - the religions, the temples, the churches, the mosques, the clergy, its hierarchy, and the Stu o is rulescontroling the life od the clergy. If God didn't command something, it cannot be a part of the faith but just the human habit, dogma or culture...

  60. Everything was invented by humans, including Gods.

  61. @Kenan Porobic I can appreciate the point you’re trying to make, which I interpreted as a reflection of your commitment to your faith. But, I don’t think it’s appropriate to dismiss the beliefs of others; all forms of polytheism and faiths that don’t recognize a god such as Buddhism. I like the idea of unity between all Christian churches, but I have to reject your narrative that seems to say “everyone needs to believe in the same faith.”

  62. @Ashli Are those who claim to believe in God but break all the Commandments the believers or not? If they aren't because they don't have the faith that those Commandments are in his or her best interest, it means that those don't acknowledge God but believe in The Commandments could be the true believers.

  63. It's hard to believe that anyone can still follow a religion with such a violent and inhumane past. Stone age spirituality has no more validity than the tooth fairy.

  64. I find it hard to believe that anyone can follow religions with such a violent and, frankly, deeply un-Christian present, that seek to drag the world back to the Middle Ages. Thanks, I'm happier with the group that demonstrates self-awareness and the ability to change for the better, if slowly, and acknowledges the relationship between God and science.

  65. The Pope is Christ's Vicar on Earth. Marriage of priests (outside of the existing situations where married, Presbyterians for example, are permitted to become Catholic priests) should not be allowed. It will lead to all manner of interpersonal issues. One of the prices for becoming a priest in the one true church of the one true faith (catholic, after all, means universal) is celibacy. If one is too weak to accept and deal with it then skip the priesthood and go for your run-of-the-mill dissolute existence. And to preempt the scandal card among priests being pulled, be reminded that over the last ten years over 400 Baptist ministers have been removed from their positions due to all manner of grotesque sexual misdeeds. No one hears about that, well, because, the Baptists have no money. But that's a story for another day. The Catholic Church is immovable and fixed in time and space. It should not be subject to the transient societal whims of the moment.

  66. Except that Jesus never preached celibacy a d the early church had no such requirement for priesthood. It was introduced as a means of keeping accumulated wealth of the clergy in the church by ensuring priests wouldn't have families to spend or inherit wealth. How's that for immovable?

  67. @Raven Why was the "price" for becoming a priest determined to be celibacy in the first place, I wonder? Why wasn't the price determined to be "to never laugh or smile", for example? Both of these behaviors are perfectly natural to human beings. Or even better yet, how about the truly self-less price of poverty/disavowing of material possessions practiced by St Francis himself. No, there is a dark motive behind this and other arcane Catholic practices over the church's history (the disempowerment of women, confession thru priests, even discouragement of reading the Bible for oneself - because only the gifted holy can truly understand it) that are not related to faith, but to power. Pope Francis is squandering the opportunity and the Pope's moral authority to make the Church and world more Christ-like. There may be a myriad of reasons for his decisions, but power and wealth (and fear of change) are high among them.

  68. @Winemaker Perhaps they foresaw male priests abusing their position to take advantage of vulnerable women, or young boys. They wanted to discourage those types from signing up. I guess it didn't work.

  69. A "trashing of the Church traditions" wouldn't be such a bad thing but no, women in this Institution will stay subservient and continue to be the indentured slaves nuns have been for those men, many recognized pedophiles and rapists, for almost two thousands years.

  70. @Pascale Luse For about 1,600 years Christians tolerated slavery. Some were slave owners. Then two small groups, the Quakers and the Mennonites, found scriptual basis for regarding slavery as immoral. Look at the result. It was not contemplated for 1,600 years.

  71. A slippery slop to the thrashing of most church traditions sounds like a great idea.

  72. Yet another failure by the Catholic Church to recognize that it could be a dynamic and positive force in the world. Lost opportunities because the hierarchy believes it's a good idea to hang onto "traditions" that have no basis in Christ's teachings, and are rooted in sociopolitical decisions from centuries ago. Or, "why I left the Church".

  73. @Matt...me too. WHY I LEFT THE CHURCH was waiting to see how this played out before I signed on to the Lutheran Evangelical Church for sure. Accepting priests that choose to marry, promoting women to (at least) to deacons and stop persecuting the nuns would help those of us who have struggled to reconcile the bureaucratic corruption and perversion in the church with our own spiritual lives and values.

  74. A slippery slope? That ship has sailed. There are already married priests, and they're doing great. The Pope has missed an opportunity to make the Catholic church more inclusive, and to make priests more relatable to their parishioners.

  75. Oh, well. What did we expect, really? No matter his private views he is the leader of an institution that still resists be dragged into the 15th century.

  76. The reason against allowing widespread married priests with the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church is not just theology or Tradition. It is not just wanting to keep the clergy as a male bastion and prevent the incursion of a woman into cleric's life. It is not just the distraction that a wife and family would cause to a priest's job. It is money. Currently a priest in the West gets a very modest salary. They can generally live in a rectory and therefore their salary needs are less. But add a wife and (large) family and the priest would have to be able to afford his own house, be able to support a wife and family and have benefits that would cover them. With allowing married clergy there would be an increase in priestly vocations as celibacy is seen as the main reason men are not going into the priesthood. The cost to a diocese for salary and benefits could easily double or triple. Married priests are allowed in other Rites of the Catholic Church and in the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church now and have been allowed in the past so there in nothing inherently inadmissible with it/.. They are clerics who convert from other Christian denominations (often over the role of women in the Church). Should it change? Of course. Will it change? Not for another generation or two. And with trends in the West continuing b then it may be moot.

  77. @M. Hogan I'm confused about the "modest salary" statement. In my former parish, (SoCal) the priests earned in the low six figures, with excellent healthcare, pensions, and luxurious suites (bigger than my entire one-bedroom apartment) within a large, newly refinished rectory. In short, they live like the princes they think they are. Additionally, they received over a month of vacation each year. I do however agree that it is money and power not divine influence from "the Lord" that keeps archaic, women-hating practices in place.

  78. @KImberly Smithsom The Jesuit magazine "America" in 2017 has an article on salary ranges for priests in the US from mid 20K to about 40K.

  79. @M. Hogan Of course, in SoCal, a six-figure income is probably the equivalent standard of living that $40k provides in other places in the US. ;-)

  80. This is God's church, not the world's and he will win out.

  81. Man has built every church, synagogue, temple, ashram and mosque. All of them are a mere reflection of man’s image of God. Mankind’s image of God has never been confirmed. Most religions claim to be the one true pathway to God. Obviously, you have bought into this psychological and religious construct which mostly serves to divide mankind and elevate one belief system over another’s.

  82. Just to be perfectly clear, EVEN married Baptist ministers who convert to Catholicism can can be ordained priests.

  83. What a loss. Celibacy is bypassing honest people whose relationship and devotion to the church are inspired in favor of second- and third-rate priests who may or may not be celibate, regardless of their vows.

  84. Um, they're having sex anyway! Human beings are hormonally-driven sexual creatures. Our hallowed priests need to make the leap from mysticism to biology YESTERDAY! Perpetuation of the species is a primal reality that no worn and ragged dogma can subsume or distend.

  85. @Michael Clayton, you must realize that a fundamental tenet of the Roman Catholic Church is that deprivation and suffering are the way to sanctity. This is the story the Roman Catholic Church teaches the rank and file. It is, indeed, the central message of the Church.

  86. What never ceases to amaze me is the harkening back to tradition to defend a practice that was not original to the Church. Catholicism only switched to unmarried, celibate priests in the 10th century. Christian Orthodoxy allows married priests.

  87. And at least in the Russian Orthodox Church outside Russia, priests MUST be married before being assigned to a parish. If later widowed or divorced, they cannot remarry. Permanently celibate priests are only found in monasteries.

  88. @Christian Scholar I am Orthodox and our tradition of ordaining married men works well. These men must be married before they are ordained. Bishops cannot marry.

  89. @Christian Scholar In my reading and study of the Biblical texts much of what makes the Roman Catholic Church the Roman Catholic Church is not based on anything found in the Bible or the life of Christ. I do not understand how so many (including very intelligent people) are so misled.

  90. It’s not even as if celibacy has always been a part of the Catholic Church. Traditions wax and wane. You would think in this new millennium the church would return to the traditions of the first millennium and let priests marry again.

  91. This isn’t about celibacy or women deacons. It is about power.

  92. I'm very happy to believe that, but how does a ban on married priests allow the Catholic powers that be to have more power than if priests are married? honest question

  93. @Vicky The early church did not have celibacy as a requirement. It was introduced in response to sexual scandals in the priesthood. It has virtually no biblical underpinnings. The apostle Paul said that a church leader who was celibate was the ideal. But in the very next sentence he said that if you "burn with lust" one should be married to deal with it. The church has a severe shortage of priests. It is part of the reason, not the only one, that the abuse scandal was handled so badly. The poverty requirement for the priesthood is in line with the teaching of Christ. The celibacy requirement is a man made solution that has virtually no biblical support. And the early church did not require celibacy. The apostle Paul made it a choice for the priesthood. Only later did it become a mandatory obligation. I'll lean toward the wisdom of Christ and the apostle Paul rather then any pope.

  94. Read church history. The reason the church required celibacy is the clergy got quite rich. They didn't want their heirs taking that wealth.

  95. @Walker Rowe yes, priests would be tempted to funnel collections into hidden funds for their kids. It has nothing to do with the high moral value of celibacy Who buys that stuff, anyway?

  96. @Walker Rowe , true, but their are ways with today's technology to prevent that. Just perhaps there are priests that obey the commanments!

  97. Re: "...They didn't want their heirs taking that wealth..." {@Walker Rowe} ...30 Pc.'s 'O, Silver has appreciated...considerably!

  98. I am saddened to read this. There is no reason in the world that a married man or a woman could not function as a priest.

  99. Sure there is.... it is greed! It is literally that simple. Throw in an unhealthy dose of misogyny and it might as well be etched in stone. Oh wait, those items are disregarded by nearly all factions as well. After nearly 56 years, I have yet understand draw or attraction oforganized religion.

  100. I am not familiar with why this practice was established, but as a person raised Catholic, the sentiment I was always surrounded with was, “let the priests marry.” It was not a radical idea. But then again, I grew up in NY so that may have had something to do with it. I no longer practice, but the people who practice Catholicism are experiencing church closures, decline in attendance, and a tremendous strain on church staff. These things are all a direct result of archaic and patriarchal standards set forth by the church that progressive peoples no longer want anything to do with. Some type of change needs to occur or this institution will disappear. It’s a shame it wasn’t able to happen now.

  101. @Joe Desiderio The reason priests weren't allowed to marry is purely financial. The early church decided they didn't want to have a widow and children having a claim on church property. Conveniently they could find something in the bible to back it up. Orthodox priests can marry, and up until the Schism they were all the same church as the Roman Catholics.

  102. @Hugh G Technically, orthodox priests can’t marry. They can be married, but must be married before they are ordained, not after.

  103. The Catholic church is having a hard time finding new priests to replace those who are old, gray and retired. This will not change because old, tired men seem to want to keep it that way. In the end, what will be the congregations who have to develop their own rituals. Congregations seem to be as old and gray as the priesthood.

  104. @George my husbands 19 year old nephew entered the seminary in August. I understand he had a calling to his vocation but I think he is too young to make this decision and realize the magnitude of the sacrifice he’s required to make. I had hoped that maybe in time the church would change but I see it won’t.

  105. Maybe a goodly number of the laity and the younger priests can convert to the Episcopal or Anglican church? Theologically speaking, they have nearly nothing to lose but do have a more rewarding future to look forward to.

  106. there is nothing in the bible -- greek, hebrew, vulgate, king james or modern -- that defines priests or requires celibacy. this is pure institutional politics. but i fully endorse this policy. it keeps over half the human race from ever entering a profession where the main function is to spread superstition. one might even call it a blessing.

  107. @drollere. That is not true. Jesus told his disciples that they must leave their families if they are to follow him. He was clear on this.

  108. We were hopeful that Francis would be breath of air to move Catholic Church forward in 21st century. But longer he remains, his views become more conservative. We are mired in archaic theology of 1st century. Where is spirit of John XXIII?

  109. @Judy, I think he's lost his stamina. If he were in his 50s, perhaps he could continue to carry the fight.

  110. I've belonged to two Catholic parishes with married priests; both had children; their families sat in the front row on Sunday and took communion from their husbands and fathers. They were Episcopalians who covered too Catholicism. Rome accepted them as-is. I am now an Episcopalian whose priests are also married with children. Does the church not see the hypocrisy in this? My St. Paul's Episcopal church believes in the Trinity, in transubstantiation, in the virgin birth of Jesus, in His resurrection, and in the saints. The prayers are the same. We kneel at communion as Catholics no longer do. The only thing we don't have is a Pope. We do have women priests, married priests, and an openness to everyone who wants a safe place for worship and community.

  111. That's too bad, as it defies human nature, the need to love each other and pursue our need to have a family if we so choose. All this brouhaha about celibacy and no marriage allowance may have to do so the church won't lose it's real estate to newly formed unions in need of shelter. What a difference with Protestants, that understood what Natura requires...and did proceed accordingly. So much healthier.

  112. This decision by the Pope does not surprise me. The decisions made by the prelates of the Catholic Church hark back to hundreds of year ago when the laity generally could not read and, therefore, relied upon the "wisdom" of church fathers. The Church hierarchy seems to think that the masses are illiterate and cannot think for themselves. No wonder the Church is losing members at a large rate.

  113. As a six year old in the 1950s I noticed that the boys got to serve on the altar and girls were not permitted anywhere that hallowed space. Nuns were the teachers and housekeepers subject to strict rules and curfews with limited mobility. They did the heavy lifting of charity, nursing the sick and infirm. The priests seemed to be having a great time, going to country clubs, parties, and all about town. The medieval costumes of overdressed nuns constrained to wear habits constructed as blinders, restricting by cardboard thick starched headdresses, are the burkas of catholicism. In my girls' catholic college (relics of long forgotten times) two of my favorite professors were former priests who had married nuns, and were consequently defrocked. It appeared that women were simply a negative in this organization, barely persons who existed only to serve. It absolutely confounds me that this male bastion that even protects those who abuse innocent children can still survive.

  114. @Janice "It absolutely confounds me that this male bastion that even protects those who abuse innocent children can still survive." If there has ever been a narrower and more tendentious summary of Roman Catholic church history, than this statement, I am unaware of it.

  115. @brian, I concur, Janice is spot-on. Moreover, I believe the current Pope realized/realizes it as well, but no longer has the stamina to try to overcome the conservative dogma that lives on in church.

  116. @Janice Our next door neighbors used to spend a couple of weeks in Florida every winter. On one of their vacations they went to the racetrack and ran into our parish priest, smoking his usual big cigar and wearing a loud Hawaiian shirt. Meanwhile the nuns were back in cold Pittsburgh, teaching classes of up to 60 kids. My aunt was a nun. She was allowed “out” once every five years for 2 weeks to visit members of her immediate family.

  117. All the Church traditions that are affected by this decision have been corrupted historically by its members. The Catholic Church again identifies itself as a regressive organization not due the respect it demands.

  118. Everyone is pointing out how the church once didn't require celibacy like this has any relevancy on how if it should now. The church was also once ~wildly~ corrupt, and that changed. Things change; the fact that things were once different isn't a compelling argument for if they should be different now. I find it somewhat shameful, though, that uplifting celibacy is being considered before ordaining women.

  119. @Justin "once" wildly corrupt. So I guess the Vatican Bank Scandal, the protectionist strategies to keep pedophile priests in practice, the declarations of bankruptcy to avoid paying restitution to victims, and so on don't fit your definition of corrupt?

  120. It seems that many of the commentators here read only the headline, not the full article. Sadly, the headline focuses on sensationalizing the Pope’s response, rather than on the more subtle substance. Anyone who has had any dealings with the Catholic Church knows that ordination to the priesthood and to the diaconate is just a perpetuation of clericalism, not an expansion of the priesthood of the laity. The pope clearly states that he wants to see the expansion of the role of women in the Church; women ministering and applying their special talents to the ministry; to ordain them as deacons or priests would clericalize and control them, not allowing them to add their special gifts to ministry. To ordain married men to minister in the place of women would also show a preference for the clerics. Also, the pope wants to encourage regional practices of worship and let them be incorporated into the mainstream in the regions where they originate, to respect local customs. That is the true meaning of universality in the Church. Also there is important thinking as regards environmental stewardship. Pope Francis asks that the document be read in full. Do not make judgments based on a few lines and a few snippets of thought from a news article.

  121. @chichimax Please don't infantilize woman by saying they have "special gifts" or a "special place". Women and men are equally capable of all you mention, and do not deserve to be relegated to only certain roles. Why women remain in a religion that denigrates them in this manner is a mystery to me.

  122. Irony abounds: there are already (and have been for centuries), married Catholic priests, particularly in Greek Catholic churches in Israel (for example); married Catholic priests in the US who come from other liturgical faiths (Lutherans, Episcopalians); and historically married Catholic priests years earlier. There is no Biblical basis for not allowing priests to marry. Meanwhile, the church is closing hundreds of churches worldwide, in part, due to the lack of priests.

  123. It appears that the Pope and the Catholic Church are more concerned about tradition rather than spreading the word of God and faith. Attendance for parishioners continues to plummet, more priests are needed and the Church refuses to change. I would take it a step further by allowing Priests to marry globally and not just in remote areas of the world in addition to allowing women to serve as priests.

  124. Those not acknowledging God in their public lives are just faithfully implementing the Commandment that they will not mention Almighty's name in vain. The verbal proclamations are completely irrelevant in true faith. Only the faitfull implementation of the prescribed Commandments matters. Is anything more tragic and laughable than the politicians publically talking about the faith?!

  125. The true place for the faith is not in the churches but solely in our homes, our souls and our lives.

  126. First it's hard to staff remote parishes, then it'll be harder to staff bigger ones. Who knows -- maybe this decision will help this arcane and oppressive faith die off faster.

  127. @Dylan your comment reminds me of a movie I saw about sheep farmers in one of the former USSR ....stans. The allotment of land for herding was up to the government. They would not give land to a single man because the lands were isolated and the work difficult and lonely. It was believed the man needed a wife and family to make the life easier. Probably could be a consideration for priests who work in places like the Amazon or anywhere.

  128. Devoting one's life to God and being married to another (same or opposite sex) human are not mutually exclusive. This decision is about control and conformity and nothing else. Someday, when the church acts as a bridge to God instead of as a gatekeeper, I might go there again. Until then, I want nothing to do with it.

  129. A slippery slope to renewal, survival and caring for souls? God forbid! Ecclesiastical decisions such as clerical celibacy are entirely left to human beings to decide in view of adapting God's church to changing circumstances. It's a great pity that Pope Francis is being curtailed by very short-sighted and sinister conservatives. As someone who teaches in a Jesuit college, I am chagrined indeed by this senseless submission to fossilized thinking.

  130. The test case was flawed from the beginning. It should have applied for all locations. It would be useful if the Catholic church did a study that compares the incidence of pedophilia in the Catholic church vs the Orthodox church. Most of the informed public are well aware that it is virtually non existent in the Orthodox church. Failure to address the most obvious cause of the pedophilia epidemic continues to reflect negatively on Catholics' attitude to the integrity of the church and to their faith. What are they thinking behind the Vatican walls? Don't they realize that the church in its present form is on a downward slope and is becoming irrelevant due in large part to pedophilia.

  131. @JBonn. I suspect the celibacy requirement is less causal in and of itself as attractive to young men who already have issues dealing with their sexuality. Much easier to conceal from oneself and society and deflect scrutiny when celibacy is the default position. (Out and out predators have a way of opportunistically burying themselves in virtually every institution.) I’d be curious to see studies comparing rates of abuse between clergy of the American RCCh and the Episcopal Church USA. There are so many commonalities (liturgical and sacramental emphasis, episcopal structure w/claims of apostolic succession, traditional church calendar, etc) that one of the few variables is the requirement of celibacy and male-exclusive priesthood...I guess that’s two variables.

  132. @JBonn Where is your data? We live in a secular age. The Catholic Church is the oldest institution on earth. Maybe not bowing to the every popular impulse is a good thing and their secret to success.

  133. It was with great disappointment that i read the article on the Pope's refusal to allow married men to be ordained as priest in the Amazon region that is dire need of pastors. What happen to Father Jorge the defender of the poor and the reformer? Has he become Pope Francis who does not want to take needed corrective actions? A real shame

  134. If a rabbi can marry, why can't a priest? These rules are all arbitrary anyway, so why not change them?

  135. If anyone can make sense of all the rules they are smarter than me.

  136. Perhaps more than any other tenet in Catholicism, this needs to be changed. Celibacy invariably leads to sexual deviancy and/or mental illness, no matter the institution. Very few people are capable of safely suppressing every natural biological urge they have from childhood to old age. The idea that priests, nuns, monks, etc are somehow special or chosen - that they are closer to God in some way - is poisonous. Kids being raised in these unnatural environments thinking it’s all normal sets a foundation for baseless respect and abuse. I was hoping Francis would be the one to end this dangerous and destructive tradition. It would be among the best gifts to the world he could give. If the Catholic church ever did it, other parallel institutions would feel much less pressure to follow. I pray for that day.

  137. VERY DISAPPOINTED. Not all victims of clergy sex abuse want to sue the Church. One lawyer, because, yes, I did discuss the possibilities, told me I hit the lottery. Really? Anyway, I would like to see the Church allow married clergy...and begin serious historical study of women deacons in the early Church and how women can serve today as deacons. And no, I'm NOT a liberal Catholic, but with what I've been through, and of course I know most pedophiles are married men, reform is needed on these questions. The real pain of what happened to me...it was the Church...a Church I love and believe to be both Human and Divine. St. Peter was married. I'm sure Jesus met his wife...imagine that. This is a discipline...not doctrine. Time to move the ball on these questions. Silence is not rejection...so there is hope.

  138. A correction: Eastern Rite Catholic priests and Orthodox priests cannot get married. They must be married prior to ordination and if their spouses die they cannot get married again. Also only celibate men can be ordained bishop. The most basic reason that Roman Catholic priests, with singular exceptions, cannot be married is conflict in vocation. Vocation is much more than a job. Vocation is putting oneself almost "totally on the line" for others. To have a vocation as priest conflicts with vocation as husband and father. When the situation demands, a priest must be ready to give his life for his people. Likewise when the situation demands, a husband and father must be willing to give his life for wife and children. This is what St. Paul authoritatively taught.

  139. @Edward Lewis If I am not mistaken the reason priests cannot marry is because their children Connor therefore inherit property. All property belongs to the Church. St. Paul had a Greek theological view. Thus, the physical and spiritual operated in two separate worlds. In a Jewish theological world there is no separation between body and spirit. Thus the resurrection of the body. In my view and, I believe the forgotten message of Jesus, our vocation as a Christian is one and not subdivided into separate vocations. We are part of the priesthood of all believers. Beware of any theology that attempts to control the body first as if it were separate from the spiritual.

  140. @David B It was also my understanding is that the church didn't want (legitimate) progeny of priests making any claim on church property. Therefore no marriage allowed. At least that's what my grandfather told me decades ago. I get the school of thought that priests can serve only one master, but it really doesn't seem to be working out very well does it? I'd say it's time to at least see if allowing married priests might increase the number of people who are willing to serve. I also think that it might be it easier for priests to relate those they are serving.

  141. @Edward Lewis That, and it conflicts with "go forth and multiply".....it would cost the church a LOT of $ to feed, house and educate those children!!!

  142. Surprised and discouraged. The celibate lobby has too much reach and power. They should have been discredited mightily in the wake of the sexual abuse scandals. Moreover, a vigorous Freudian revisitation of the role of the “Holy Father” is very much in order. Much as I admire Francis, this is a decision all too typical of over-centralized authority. It’s also an insult to the bishops and churches of the Global South, especially given the married priesthood of the Eastern Rite and those Anglicans, Episcopalians, Methodist and Baptist men with families who enter the Catholic Church to function in ordained capacity. Recommend Adam DeVille’s book, “Everything Hidden Shall Be Revealed.”

  143. If the Church allowed married clergy they’d then have to pay a living wage to them.

  144. @Mark R. They can afford it. Pay with proceeds from entrance fees to the Vatican Museum. Plus, the increase in parishioners would help too.

  145. @Mark R. I had not thought about that aspect.

  146. @Mark R. Priests get paid a living wage now. Not an issue.

  147. Do you hear that sound? It's the sound of a hammer striking yet another nail into the Roman Catholic Church's coffin. Francis' reforms are a dollar short and a millennium late.

  148. @Jim Dotzler And yet the Catholic Church continues to grow in number of adherents every year, despite what you say.

  149. Could the folks in these underserved places, or really across the globe , convert to being Anglican or Episcopalian? Virtually nothing about the key elements of their faith would change, and the laity would at least have religious leaders again (not all would even necessarily be or get married, but if they did, they could still serve their parishioners). When even the local Catholic bishops saw the need and backed the let-the-priests-marry solution, it might well be that the Pope’s backward thinking will drive even more to abandon the Church. At some point, this trend will seriously undermine the wealth, the power, and the influence of the Church for years to come.

  150. Mission churches and dioceses are actually on Church resources, but that’s of course acceptable and even encouraged to spread the faith. The only place in the world where the Anglican faith seems to be growing is Africa, and that’s a very conservative brand of their faith. Could it happen? Maybe. Will it? Probably not. Meanwhile, in North America, the Episcopal Church is for all intents and purposes dying, with according to its own statistics an average Sunday church attendance of 46 people, which is about what my town’s small local Catholic church ordinarily attracts on an average Tuesday at 7:30 am.

  151. There are at least two major problems with the Pope's response, (and previous similar statements by some of his predecessors). (a) It simultaneously confirms and downplays the status of priests. The call for a greater involvement of laity is not new, and one could argue that insufficient progress has been made in this area precisely because of this mixed signal. (b) As others have pointed out, the Church's gender essentialism. on the specific roles and contributions of men and women, is untenable. Mary's virtues present a model for all human beings, not just women; Jesus/Christ EMBODIED also virtues traditionally, not essentially, attributed to women and modeled by his mother, such as meekness. Thus there should not be a problem with a woman (priest) saying "Take my body" at the Eucharist.

  152. Jesus made holy all those he came upon. Twelve were so moved they decided to follow him in poverty to minister his words they were learning. The great lessons have endured for two thousand years having made the Earth Civilized and the faithful of good righteous lives that satisfied them. From the beginning, the Church sprang eternal more nourished by spirits than earthly things. It will always remain from this old world into the New World of peace. Frances is our blessing, a true follower of a Liberal Jesus who defied an old Empire of Earth. The Church is of people and their faith and hope for redemption, not a church of policy and administration. Those are the tools to share faith and hope, but not the focus. I live with one foot on Earth and the other in Heaven as my soul yearns for peace and enlightenight in the spirit. I am lay but revel in the life of singular faith observing the world and existing in the spirit contemplating the past, the present and the future. I am without woman for 36 years and content with my celibacy as a means of changing from the flesh to the spirit. I am free of the reigns of singular love so I can love all. Celibacy is a blessing that allows me to exist in the spirit in solitude and reflection on so much. Questions of faith are no longer questions, they are facts. In everyone's focus on the Earthly Church, remember that God Created all so he loves all. Celibacy is a blessing to be chosen, not forced. Share the wonders with priests.

  153. @PATRICK Certainly anyone can CHOOSE celibacy, that is not the point. Having it as a requirement for choosing priesthood does not mean that any priest would be forced to marry. SMH.

  154. Yeah that celibacy thing is working out great for the thousands upon thousands of young children that have been abused. Oh, and it was not until ecumenical meetings of the Catholic Church at the First and Second Lateran councils in 1123 and 1139 that priests were explicitly forbidden from marrying.

  155. @PATRICK I like turtles!

  156. I left the Catholic Church years ago for two reasons : Child abuse and not allowing priests to marry. Pope Francis is living in the 15th century. Jesus never proclaimed that his disciples never marry; it is highly likely that he was married himself. it was an artificial construct created by men of the church with questionable moral motives. It’s has become increasingly clear that there is a connection between this doctrine and pedophilia. The problem lies in so-called tradition. Just because priests weren’t allow to marry for hundreds of years does not make the practice right.

  157. It's funny to me that Pope Francis is viewed as a "liberal". His politics are medieval relative to modern society's values. But relative to a church that needed to wait until the 1990's to apologize for condemning GALILEO? Yeah, he's super-woke.

  158. I’m sorry to see that Francis didn’t push through a reasonable change like allowing priests stationed in remote areas to marry. The Catholic Church does so much good around the world; this change would have helped by attracting more people to get involved in this important work. Until there is a Pope who can overcome an out of touch Curia and conservative tilt among many church leaders the faith will continue to lose influence at a time when the impact it’s teachings and Jesus’s message is most needed in the world.

  159. I am neither Catholic or a believer in faith. I have my own reasons. But I have always admired what the Catholic church has done in charitable work and support for the poor and the less fortunate. I do find it somewhat disappointing not allowing either Priests to be married or women to be allowed into the Priesthood. Both are of a regressive nature and do not serve the Church well as we progress into the 21st century.

  160. @allen roberts sometimes it is hard to be a Catholic, but the church does do good works. They have given many a proper education and taught people how to logically think.

  161. I’m disappointed Pope Francis failed to recognize the need to modernize the Church. It’s long overdue. Our newest priest at St. Thomas, Father John, was ordained last year after losing his wife. He is the most spirit-filled and engaging priest I’ve known, adding a scholarly take in his weekly message to us, in some ways informed by his previous life as a married man. We need many more Father Johns in the Church so it can move into a modern society begging for it.

  162. The caption to the title of this article: "The decision, in a letter on Catholic life in remote Amazon areas, is a victory for conservative forces who had warned that change there would put the church on a slippery slope." is a sad reminder of similar statements dashing the hopes for changes to really meet the needs and hopes of Roman Catholics and others over the years and especially now with the popularity and expectations Pope Francis brought. The core message of the love, light and life of God's presence in humanity remains the same but continues to be distorted and diminished by an archaic institution , controlled by the Rome. Despite the very true statement that " "Rome is the graveyard of the faith," faithful through the world have and will continue to find meaning and grace the Church's message, However, the irrational control and limitation of the Church's key messenger, priests, must end by opening ordination to men and women of all life styles who can lead, inspire, and really share the Good News of the peace, justice of Christ in all parts of the world.

  163. You know, the Catholic church already admits married priests who entered from the Anglican church through the Special Ordinariate: men who were priests in the Anglican tradition who defected to Catholicism. These guys were (and still are) welcomed with open arms, and now many of them - again, married priests, lawfully married within the Anglican church before converting to Catholicism - minister to Catholic congregations, make the sacraments, and have full membership in the Catholic church. I'm not Catholic - in fact, I'm Anglican, where we share much the same liturgy and very nearly the same theology (and we still kneel before the altar as many Catholics do not), but we have women priests and, for both sexes, married priests are the norm. This strikes me as good. But apart from the good or bad of it, I don't see how the Catholic position right now is anything but logically, theologically inconsistent. I can't for the life of me see how you welcome formerly-Anglican priests, not just as lay-Catholics, but continuing in their calling as priests. If they have the sanction of God and the church, then surely marriage itself does not annul ordination, under the rules of the Catholic church itself.

  164. I know a few Anglican converts to the Catholic priesthood. They are nice guys who are well grounded theologically, but they just aren’t among the best priests in my opinion as in the opinions of my friends who are parish and diocesan lay leaders. It’s not their fault. They have families to which they must rightly attend, but it is then done at the cost of their parishes and their parish families. You simply can’t compare generally tiny Anglican congregations to generally large Catholic parishes with thousands of people in need of ministry. The many great priests and bishops I’ve known have often had to sacrifice familial wants and needs for that of their spiritual families. The Personal Ordinariate of St. Peter continues, and that’s mainly an offshoot of the Episcopal Church in the US taking a turn that theological conservatives could not stomach, thus leading to splits within that denomination and others returning to Catholicism.

  165. What is a priest? Somebody closer to God than the rest of humanity? Somebody allegedly a better believer than the rest of us? Somebody having the direct line and access to the Almighty? What is a basic difference between a clergyman and any other human? Is the only difference that their employer banned them from getting married?

  166. @Kenan Porobic Someone who, through the grace of God, is able to confect the Eucharist.

  167. As a Catholic, if the Church and other religions do not adapt to stay relevant, then they will continue to decline.

  168. "Jesus never proclaimed that his disciples never marry; it is highly likely that he was married himself. it was an artificial construct created by men of the church with questionable moral motives." What's the difference living in a remote area as opposed to a non remote area when it comes to having a sexual partner (wife/ girlfriend). Harder to find a girlfriend in a remote area? Otherwise intelligent people turn themselves into pretzels arguing about this. Celibacy is one of the major frauds advanced by the CC. And there are many others.

  169. In the Greek Orthodox Church priest are allowed to get marry. The only restriction is that a married priest can not be a bishop and the Patriarch of the Church. In the Latin Catholic Church priest can not married at all. In the Roman Empire the Latin Catholic was the church in the Western Roman Empire and the Greek Catholic (or Orthodox) was the church in the Eastern Roman Empire. As we know the Western part of the Roman Empire was destroyed by the Barbarian invasion during the Fifth Century and the Eastern part survived until 1453. In the Roman Empire the state was a public entity. In the new barbarian kingdoms the state was the private thing of the king. Those kings realizing that they needed the support of the church, gave them lands, buildings,.. Therefore the Church had to make sure that they would be able to keep these goods and not loose it through marriage. The way to do it: mandatory celibacy for the priest. Which was decreed at the Second Lateran Council in 1139 and reaffirmed at the Council of Trent in 1563.

  170. It is very hard for unmarried priests to counsel married couples, but the church expects them to do it as part of their duties As the old saying goes, "you no play the game you no make the rules."

  171. Although ordaining married men was accepted in the first millennium, an easily-missed fact is that these men were expected and eventually required to be continent (abstaining from sex with their wife). Despite the railings of the angry commentators, it is likely that continence was practiced since the early Apostles; Saint Paul talks about priestly self-control (or, in Greek, continence or abstinence); Jesus himself mentions leaving house and wife to follow him. To make continence easier, priests even stayed away from their wives, only to visit them occasionally during day hours. In today's age, I can only see this leading to legal divorce, or unregulated scandal.

  172. In the end, the Church is a group of men making rules for men. Physicians heal they selves. At this point, what a group of isolated clergy say doesn’t matter.

  173. It's misleading for the NYT to imply that priestly celibacy is only going to "delight the conservatives." I'm a progressive Catholic with many progressive Catholic friends, and we also "delight" in Francis' rejection of allowing married men to become priests. It's a scientifically erroneous view that clerical celibacy is a cause of child abuse or any other abuse (please do your own research based on reliable sources). Rather, celibacy allows these men to give themselves more fully and wholeheartedly to the people they serve. As a lifelong Catholic, I've yet to meet a priest that lives up to such a high standard. On the other hand, I've been privileged to meet many great priests who really devote much of their time, energy and resources to the people they serve. Without priestly celibacy, such devotion would not be possible.

  174. @Paul Kim You're missing the point. It's not that celibacy leads people to become pedophiles. It's that by opening up the vocation to a wider range of men (and women, imo), there will be a much more diverse and large group of people available. This not only makes it easier to force the bad ones out (because replacements are available), but also creates a group of priests that will have more of a vested interest in protecting the children - because as parents, they will have a fuller understanding of the horror of child sexual abuse. If a person chooses celibacy because he (or she) thinks it enhances his or her religious devotion or experience, he or she is free to do so. But it should not be a requirement.

  175. Pope Francis appears to have made the decision after a very strong public campaign to scuttle these proposed changes by leading conservatives who threatened schism and called such changes a grave moral error and one in the “spirit of the anti-Christ.” Most of the younger US clergy would have vehemently opposed the changes. They would have denounced it. Many of the older clergy would have greatly welcomed the changes. US Catholics would have been very divided, too. The conservatives would have threatened schism. He seems to have reluctantly decided to avoid the very ugly public battle that would’ve ripped the Church apart. A sad realization that support for needed change simply is not there.

  176. It was a political decision to prevent open schism and to appease the conservatives who are out to get him. He could not do other. Very sad.

  177. To a non-catholic, but also someone highly respectful of the history and traditions of the church, I still have to say that if the purpose of the priest is to offer not only religious counseling but also help to people who are dealing with deeply disturbing family disturbances, abuse, and violence, it is difficult to see how celibate priests can have the experience and the qualifications (a spouse and/or children) to deal with these basic needs of their parish. Also, it seems to be a step back to the huge decline in respect the church has suffered through this tradition and the 1000's of cases of sexual abuse that have resulted. Has the church really learned nothing at all from this catastrophe?

  178. I’m glad for the openness that Francis has brought to the catholic church but the church is so archaic that and even the most extreme reforms still leave us with an institution that’s out of touch with the world today. Honestly, should we be debating who has the rights absolve sins or hold communion when we face climate change?

  179. Just to be clear. Celibacy is actually an innovation to Church traditions. For over a thousand years, the Western Church allowed a married priesthood. The Eastern Church never gave it up. The Church routinely ordains married priests in the Ukraine. They even have courses for their wives at the seminary. Their tradition is only that once ordained the priest cannot marry.

  180. I attended a special Catholic Mass last evening for the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes at a Church on the upper east side of Manhattan. It was packed. I do not think these devout Catholics will drift away if married priests or women deacons are not allowed. Their faith is to strong for that to happen. I certainly will never leave the Church as my faith is supreme to my life. It has made me the person I am today and I have been given many blessings in life. I have been very fortunate and want this to continue.

  181. Even asking for such permission means that it's OK for priests to have sexual partners but harder to find them in remote areas and hence they should be allowed to marry. Why not just abolish the celibacy requirement and make the church safer for young children.

  182. Agree wholeheartedly with Pope Francis here. The position of priest in the Catholic universe is not just a job or occupation where just because a path forward might be easier or more practical means that it should be done. The theological and doctrinal issues must be considered above all because, if you are a believer, those are the issues that connect us directly to God.

  183. As a recovering Catholic, I have to say it's straight up bizarre to attend a Catholic wedding these days. Watching a priest opine on a relationship that he has no direct knowledge of (or ever will), I always think why is anybody listening to this guy? He has no clue what a successful marriage requires. Then add on all the other issues with the church, particularly the child abuse and widespread cover-up, and for the life of me I can't figure out how Catholic priests still have ANY moral authority.

  184. Re: "...He has no clue what a successful marriage requires..." {@shstl} As a child, one of my (Jr. High) buddies gave me his father's airliner flight-manual when the father upgraded to a larger salary / airliner... In theory...I suppose I could get the aircraft in question goin', fast enough, on a runway / taxiway, (or...parking lot), to sell a lot, 'O, newspapers, ('if it bleeds, it leads'), but...that hardly qualifies me to fly airliners! By that same token... Allegedly, celibate clergy are manifestly, unqualified to make marriage, and / or, L.T.R., (with, or w/o cohabitation), management decisions; they should develop a little humility while beginning to clean, house of the pederastic_ecclesiasts!

  185. @shstl I am NO fan of the Church, however, I do think Priests hear a LOT from their parishioners about conflicts, family, sex, money, etc. I, myself, had a short-lived marriage but I am intelligent, a good observer, know about long term marriages, and have read Dr. John Gottesman's (sp?) book on what goes into making a good marriage, along with other expert voices. I think I could offer some useful advice.

  186. Can anyone quote us the scripture where Jesus requires all priests to be celibate? I didn't think so. The Catholic church is an archaic and draconian institution that is in a steady decline because of herded,brainwashed sheeple. Instead of blindly following an institution based on man-made myths and superstitions how about start asking questions about why celibacy was put in place. Hint: it's nothing to do with God's plan or Jesus's teachings. Another hint: It's about money,greed and power. Hmmmm, are you surprised? That's why the scam and fraud of the Church is creating less followers and declining attendance. The younger generations are asking more questions about the aspects of faith and religion. Often they are not getting satisfactory answers about the creation of Christianity. Hence, the steady decline of attendance and followers of the Church.

  187. What is more important to a Roman Catholic? Church Tradition or the protection of Children?

  188. This decision doesn't seem to square with views expressed in the movie "The Two Popes." Oh well.

  189. This organization is a big pedophile ring than should be broken up to protect the public. They have harbored tens of thousands of pedophiles in just about every country where they work. That's just what we know about the last few decades this may go back way further. There could be millions of cases of sexual assault and the whole time the people in the church have lied, deceived and hidden those pedophiles among them and they went on assaulting children. Not only has the church organization hide massive crimes but wealthy and powerful members have worked to hide the extent of the crimes from the public. The level of criminality is unique in human history and nobody should see them as anything but the worst example of abuse of trust of any religious organization ever.

  190. One more thing... Can we please stop calling it "celibacy"? I ask because there's a mountain of evidence from around the world and throughout the ages suggesting that it ought to be called "purported celibacy".

  191. H'mm. " ….conservatives had warned would set the Roman Catholic Church on a slippery slope toward lifting priestly celibacy and weakening church traditions." By traditions do you mean Canon law, which has evolved over time? If so, that very canon law has reflected and enforced the misogynistic culture of the Church. Given the depredations against those in the pews, perhaps it is time to examine those traditions with new eyes. Because while the men in the long black dresses are bickering amongst themselves over procedural matters, the women congregants are leaving the pews.

  192. I was raised Catholic and always thought celibate priests was just wrong. It’s awful to see a religion stuck in the dark ages. This is a major reason I no longer believe in the Church. The Church attempts to remain relevant but they’re not. Get with the times; it’s 2020!!!

  193. Raised as a Catholic; as an adult the church and its teaching are irrelevant to me. It is more like an untaxed disgraceful famila run by a Don. I do not want to be associated with it or its believers.

  194. So the Catholic Church will continue to limp along in certain regions because Francis does not want to rile up certain factions in the church? The policy isn’t written in Biblical stone but was adopted long after Jesus and the apostles were gone. And as others have noted the Catholic Church already welcomes in Anglicans and Lutheran male clergy who are married. OK church so limp along.

  195. Yet one more reason for the Catholic Church to continue losing ground in the number of their faithful.

  196. I propose the following alternate headline: Man Whose Entire Job Is Upholding Medieval Values Upholds Medieval Values

  197. Which is why more and more people worldwide are abandoning religion, including Catholics. This decision is laughable coming from an allegedly "liberal" leader of a church that once featured bachanals between medieval popes and nuns, then went on to protect pedophiles long after being made aware of their child abuse.