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: 77

  1. A man-made edict or tradition is not a Biblical commandment. There is nothing in the Bible that prohibits priests or ministers from marrying. Seems like a great idea for the misogynistic church to dictate something like celibacy then turn it's back on pedophilia or punish priests who follow their normal, God given impulses to have sex.

  2. A woman or open-minded man who remains in this church is a fool. An absolute fool.

  3. I am happy that the Holy Father has preserved the tradition of the Catholic Church by maintaining the celibacy requirement of clergy, because it upholds the central symbolic and functional structure of the church as a family.

  4. @Thomas How does forbidding priests from ever having a family of their own uphold the church as a family? And, let’s not forget that over the years many priests, cardinals and even popes flagrantly ignored this “tradition” with their mistresses and many children. The main reason this “tradition was started was to ensure the clergy left their wealth to the church because they would have no direct heirs. In this day of dwindling churchgoers, you would think their focus would be on surviving.

  5. @Thomas: Maybe the cynicism comes from centuries of priests ignoring the rules of celibacy, even abusing young children around the world, while being systematically protected by the Vatican?

  6. Funny that religion has given people "great" confort in a world torn apart by the same religion.... 7 out 10 Americans consider themselves "Christians", but how many of those "Christians" do the christian things real "Christians" should.....? I believe these Christian, don't have a clue on how to do it, nor how to behave. They live confused between the "To be, or not to be"... but they do love to criticize others...

  7. As in most areas of life, power and money rule. The church apparently has made a financial business decision. The total sum of money saved by not allowing wealth to transfer to wives and children of priests must exceed the money being paid out to the endless list of victims of the international network of pedophile catholic priests. Financial decision. Business is business.

  8. This does not encourage me to go back to mass. What a load of pious garbage. Priests should be able to marry. Women should be priests. And women priests should be able to marry. For a culture of acceptance of the priestly abuse of nuns and children, they are existentially moving in the wrong direction. Start taxing churches and maybe then we will see change.

  9. Francis needs to become more devious like Lenny, Voiello and Sir John Brannox. You know, the real papacy.

  10. Celibacy is not what the document is about! Read the article! Read the document! Get a life, folks!

  11. As if we were expecting the Catholic Church and papacy to get in sync with the millennia.

  12. @Hootin Annie Yes, expecting a universal institution spanning millennia to "get in sync" with the values of a particular part of the world in a particular decade would be silly, wouldn't it?

  13. Marriage is the view of a particular time and place? Seems pretty ubiquitous to me.

  14. So sad that the Catholic Church remains wed to a patriarchy and values which were never spoken by Jesus, while the American "evangelical church" has lost all credibility since selling its soul and values for short term political gain. However the religious "left" welcomes with open arms all those who honestly seek to live Christ-centered lives. Love for each other, and glory to God, are the only requirements. Find a church that matches your beliefs. It may just have a rainbow flag outside.

  15. @Mike To me the evangelicals seem very self centered. They focus on getting themselves into heaven and ignore the rest of the bible about being a good person to other people. Religion is a club that you can exclude others from and provides a set of rules that you can look down on others for not following.

  16. My Dad was a minister and there were times when he felt pressured by the responsibility of providing for his family over making what he felt was the right decision concerning the life of the church and congregation. He was always aware that the church could fire him if he did not chose to conform with what conservative church elders wanted, rather than what he believed was the right decision for living contemporary Christian life in the world. If priests had families, they would be subject to the same dilemmas. My mother frequently said she thought the Roman Catholic Church was correct in forbidding priests to marry. As a child, I was aware of the pressures this put on my parents and that it was the cause of conflict in their marriage.

  17. @MJM I would think that this would enhance a minister or priest's role when it comes to counseling families, to have lived themselves the kinds of conflicts families face, rather than to live a life in which these are foreign concepts.

  18. @MJM, How is that different than any other job? All of us working stiffs have to balance work and family. Why can’t priests do the same?

  19. @Susi All priests have lived in a family and dealt with family conflict. They aren't grown in test tubes.

  20. The Catholic church was founded with married priests - a number of the apostles were married. Celibacy was only introduced in the middle ages to deal with the issue of a priest's family inheriting or taking church property. A number of Popes, Cardinals, Bishops, Priests and Monks had mistresses -- see Borgias. It is sad that the curia believes only celibate men can lead a congregation and that this was always the divine plan. Catholic communities around the world need faith leaders. Yet the church refuses to recognize such leaders from the ranks of married priest or women. So sad.

  21. "Pope Francis has for now rejected a landmark proposal by bishops to allow the ordination of married men in remote areas, a potentially momentous change that conservatives had warned would set the Roman Catholic Church on a slippery slope toward lifting priestly celibacy and weakening church traditions." Because a shrinking number of priests isn't a risk to the Church, and because having married men, with children to worry about and wives to face every day, might change how some of the "celibate" priests have been traditionally behaving. Wrong decision. A church run by a bunch of officially celibate men, with oversight by a bunch of officially celibate men, has led to protection of monsters in the institution instead of protection of the children. It's led to a decrease in its reach. It's leading to a decrease in the priesthood. I'm undecided on whether that's even a bad thing at this point. Married priests and even (cover your ears) female priests and bishops would invigorate the Church and also speed the cleaning out of it's darker recent legacy.

  22. Pope Francis may have been guided by more conservatives within the Catholic Church regarding his decision to not allow married priests. If this change had taken place, it may have created other liberal changes the Church did not want to consider. They did not want to have to go down this path.

  23. @KMW "Cardinal Michael Czerny ... said ... that specific proposals in the final October document “remain on the table” and characterized the process as a “journey.”" In these apocalyptic times of abortion, genetic engineering, and the disintegration of traditional cultural institutions like gender, marriage and family, resolving this particular dialectic between tradition and humanism is difficult in the extreme. As he sez, the process is open, a journey through time guided only by the best of the past and glimpses of light in the present, ...honesty, heart and wakefulness is all in all.

  24. The Catholic Church will endure as it has for over 2000 years. Not allowing married priests or women deacons will not prevent people from attending Mass. It is as relevant today as it was back then. People will cling to their faith as it is important in their lives. They need this for their day to day living.

  25. My only concern about the long, slow arc of the Church's declining power and influence is that it is taking so long. If this decision opens some peoples' eyes to the desperation in the royal house of the pope and causes them to re-think a decision indoctrinate their children into such a corrupt and morally-bankrupt "faith" then hooray for the continued mistreatment of clergy, women (and children)!

  26. Let the patriarchy reign. I can just hear them murmuring we have a difficult enough time keeping the nuns in their place.

  27. I don't get this. They are not attracting men to the priesthood. They won't let married men in and heaven forefend they let women in. Where do they think new priests will come from?

  28. Catholics should accommodate themselves to the Church. The Church should not accommodate itself to the World.

  29. Yes, just like it didn’t accommodate to requests from the world to bring pedophile priests to justice. The Catholic Church is a pyramid scheme infested by perverts. That might seem harsh, but it is true and it is the reason the Church is dying in most countries. Even Ireland is through with them.

  30. With that mindset, the church will continue to shrink, parishes continue to close, catholic schools continue to collapse. So, yes, I suppose the church should never change, and Catholics who feel so inclined will revel in its timelessness. The rest of us who need to be of use, to have a purpose in the real world, to belong to a community where women have the same opportunities as men, especially in ministry, governance, planning and administration, where nothing about married people disqualifies them from ordination, and where accumulating massive riches in the Vatican while continuing to bungle the clergy child sex abuse phenomenon here at home doesn’t cut it.

  31. @William I thought the purpose of the church was to serve the people.

  32. I will never understand the hesitancy over female leadership in the RCC. We know Christ led his ministry closely with women who supported him and also proselytized along side him. Truly bizarre to ignore basic areas in the gospels for so many centuries. But why am I really surprised at any of this information this morning. An antiquated institution doing antiquated things. Water is wet!

  33. This decision reflects the very small step incrementalism of the Catholic Church, an institution that thinks in terms of centuries. The things liberals would like have only been discussed by academics, who were usually ostracized or silenced. They were taken seriously by the Curia or any pope. The small step is that Francis allowed bishops to freely discuss and vote on this proposal, and he seriously considered it.

  34. Catholics admit that the Orthodox church has valid sacraments and an apostolic priesthood that legitimately descends from Peter - even though their priests can and do marry. In fact the Catholic church itself already has married priests - those who entered from the Anglican communion under the special ordinariate, having converted to Rome only after their ordination (and marriage) in the Anglican tradition. In short, the church as an institution already admits that one can be married and a legitimate priest capable of celebrating the eucharist and offering the full range of sacraments. If celibacy is just a tradition - well, there may be good in it, who knows? - but surely in times and places of great need, where sacraments aren't celebrated because priests are too few on the ground, this tradition isn’t serving the church well. If immortal souls are at stake, and if, again, you already acknowledge the legitimacy of married priests in some circumstances - if you already acknowledge that married priesthood is theologically possible - then why would you not make the exception here as well? Is mere tradition more important than souls finally receiving communion? Any Catholic who says that it is seems to me to be missing the centrality of the sacraments in the practice of their faith.

  35. @Sally, I agree with everything you said. My suspicion, based on nothing, is that Francis fears the internal politics of the Church are sufficiently dangerous that in this instance he has no choice but to accommodate the wishes of the conservative faction that, basically, hate him. My guess, again based on nothing in particular, is that Francis thinks the Church is headed for a schism, and if he were to approve married priests in the Amazon, the conservative faction would declare all out war on him and the liberals. Francis, apparently, does not want to be the Pope that fights that war. As a lapsed Catholic, I am really disappointed in Francis. I had hoped for a lot more than just talk. Otoh, Francis has been packing the College of Cardinals with people who think like him, and maybe he is hoping they will elect, as the next Pope, someone who is liberal, but young enough and energetic enough to fight the good fight. The conservatives are more than willing to have a schism that results in a smaller Church that is “ideologically pure” on their terms. Francis doesn’t want to split the Church. He’d rather we all stay together and move to the future as one. At least that’s my best guess. My spouse is a Methodist, and they have already decided to split over the question of gay marriage and homosexuality in general. The church they attend isn’t sure right now if they will still own their buildings come June. It’s a logistical and financial nightmare as well as a theological one.

  36. Free Ad Copy for the Catholic Priesthood: "You can't get married but, we'll look the other way if you decide to spread your cheeks in front of a twelve-year-old and show him that glory hole which God made in his image."

  37. I am concerned about the church’s history of sheltering pedophiles, but this comment goes too far. I don’t see how it is allowed. In private company, the irony might be received well. But this is a public forum run by a respected news organization.

  38. Dear Ben, How interesting. You see this comment's approval and appear to have lost respect for the publication whereas I see the approval and respect the Times even more. So where exactly does that leave us? Why is it that so many of us are afraid to admit the truth? Too often do we overlook wrong-doing and attack those who spoke of it. I don't work in the Approval Department of the New York Times but I'd imagine the comment was greenlit because (a) it didn't call for uncivil action and (b) however grotesque the image may be, it's the truth. What I wrote maybe a lot of things, but too far? I might argue it's not far enough. I might project that it should go further. We should be ramming every detail from each account down the publics' throats until no one is subject to such things. We should state every little detail of every single case in full so that the public is so fouled by the imagery it is forced to take action. Maybe, if the Church actually practiced what it preached they'd be on a better path. If they would allow their priests to marry and cultivate loving relationships for themselves, perhaps the urge to use their power over a child would end. Perhaps providing such outlets like marriage to the priesthood could eliminate every rogue horndog who's ever infiltrated the system. To be concerned is honorable but the word is far too feeble when discussing the topic at hand. You should be enraged. Imagine if it were your child. Best, Charlie

  39. I am terribly shocked to see the amazing blindness of so many people wanting to still join the Catholic Church in spite of the fact that hundreds of thousands of children, boys and girls all over the world , were raped and sexually abused by the Catholic priests. Now a large segment among the Catholics believe they can give this organized religion a look of normalcy by allowing priests to get married and therefore cover their crimes. I don't understand how come this church can still be openly in business with generous tax breaks honest citizens can only dream of. The Catholic Church have soiled everything they've touched, including our children. By rejecting women, Catholics still show their traditional hatred for God's creation of women.

  40. In placing his stamp of approval on continued celibacy for priests, the Pope denies 98 percent of Christendom that allows the natural and healthy desire of all humans to marry and live in that relationship. He also sentenced his church to suffer the repeated crimes of sexual perversion and molestation of boys in his care. In other words, the Pope who wishes the world to see how much he cares, has shown us how much he doesn't.

  41. ....and yet the Catholic Church has allowed Ukrainian Greek Catholic priests to marry for decades. Hypocrisy?

  42. Marriage is bad, but protecting pedophiles is good. This is why the Church is dying. Pope Francis was once heralded as a reforming force. He is basically just more of the same.

  43. There is something very pathetic about adults allowing someone else to decide if they can marry. Sounds like a life of cognitive dissonance and resentment are the coming attractions.

  44. I'm using my voice now in honor of the one I never had as a female in the Catholic Church. So much damage done, so much indoctrination into a belief system that serviced men and subjugated women in the name of a male God. There's staggering hypocrisy here. This edifice needs to fall.

  45. Life is full of slippery slopes. One purpose of religion is to give one a mature capacity to discern the most ethical action as one traverses those slippery slopes.

  46. If the church is opposed to married priest it could instead invest in advanced technologies to provide services to the faithful in remote areas. First, same-day drone deliveries of consecrated communion wafers from closest Churches with priests on staff. Second, 5G networks that deliver real-time streaming of Mass, and include virtual reality goggles to the experience real. Build encrypted applications for remote confessions.

  47. Although I am not a Catholic, I have great respect for the Catholic Church, but watching from outside, it seems to me the conservatives are focusing on human-created traditions, because there is nothing in the Bible or the gospel that even remotely suggests priest celibacy. Celibacy may be the root cause of too many problems: priests having affairs, pedophilia or sex abuse by them. They need to be realistic and compliant with the Scriptures. If Jesus never married, it was probably because he had a higher mission in a short time, and if they want to emulate him, they should be more concerned with his message, in my opinion.

  48. @Morris G The people are not equal to Jesus so no need to emulate him. The focus of the faith is never on any individual but the rules prescribed by the faith. The untold and unpresribed rules are not the part of faith.

  49. The focus of the faith is Jesus Christ, the Eucharist and his message. It is not rules and certainly not rules to preserve wealth and power. it’s not supposed to be at least. Jesus taught against that very thing.

  50. It seems the Pope has a problem with the "Sanctity" of marriage.

  51. The Catholic church continues to find new ways to lose parishioners. Hopefully the American Catholics will separate and run a church that respects everyone. The Italian church seems to still be stuck in the 1100s. Sure they have given up some traditions but not many that are meaningful.

  52. How disappointing. Not only is there a need for these priests, but the current crew could use the empathy that comes with a family. Christ would also choose women to meet these needs.

  53. Any effort made by Pope Francis to restore the Catholic Church and made it more open to the needs of the human being is now called into question. Moreover conservative clergy wants to maintain the useless and dangerous Catholic dogmatic principles so as to avoid people not to go anymore to the church. It is unaccptable that sexual abuse of children by priests cannot condemned as a crime and, as such, punished with jail sentences. It cannot be justified because of a protracted celibacy and any attempt to blame the sexual revolution of the sixties for this crime must be rejected.

  54. Yea. Why not keep 'tradition' alive in the Catholic Church. There are plenty of young boys to go around. :(

  55. I wonder if the real elephant in the room is the issue of recognition of same-sex marriage. It is estimated aboit 30% of priests are gay, and an even higher percentage of bishops, and if French author Frederic Martel is to be believed, very many of the Roman Curia are gay. So if heterosexual priests are allowed to marry, then it would only be a matter of time before gay priests ask: what about us? It is likely that sexual relations among gay clergy have been tolerated for centuries, as long as they keep quiet about it and don't cause "scandal". Allowing married priests would upset that cosy arrangement.

  56. This Pope once again proves how out of touch with reality (as well as the Bible) the Catholic Church is. They continue to welcome homosexual priests into their ranks who proclaim they're 'non-practicing', they've protected pedofile homosexual priests while only recently paying lip service to 'zero tolerance'. Meanwhile the notion of married priests, female priests and the millions of practicing Catholics who could benefit from their ministries, are made to once again wait in disbelief because indecisive Francis can't stand up to dictatorial Benedict and his purple legion of Vatican followers.

  57. Oh the message in my inbox said the church said it would be "a thrashing" to lift this ban, not "a weakening" of church traditions. When people see the word "thrashing" their blood pressure goes up. Like the Romans in the Coliseum bleachers. Language is so potent and so easily slips under the conscious radar.

  58. I was 18 when I decided that a faith that excluded one half the population from the ecclesiastical hierarchy was not worth participating in. Nice to see that my decision to leave will not have been retroactively shortsighted.

  59. "But the pope’s refusal to allow married priests was likely to delight conservatives, many of whom have come to see Francis and his emphasis on a more pastoral and inclusive church as a grave threat to the rules, orthodoxy and traditions of the faith." What they mean to say is "a grave threat to our power and control."

  60. OMG! Married priests might appear...in Europe! We are in end times for sure. My fervent wish for the CC is for it to be completely and finally removed from politics and from controlling women's choices.

  61. Come on, people, who genuinely care about what these old men want in their conclave.

  62. No one forces you to be a Catholic. If someone is not happy with the tenets of the Church, they are welcome to not participate. There are over 1.3 billion Catholics around the world who are very happy with its practice. They are the ones the Church should be concentrating on. They are the ones who are keeping the Church going and give to the collections. These people keep the Churches open.

  63. Yes, but Catholics want to force the rest of us to accept their views about sexuality. From not covering contraception in our health insurance to not letting women have the reproductive freedom to have an abortion if they feel they need one.

  64. @KMW , I know many conservative Catholics think exactly as you do but they then refuse to acknowledge the empty churches that are dying for funds. I regularly attend mass in my hometown. The churches are 1/3 full if lucky, they are begging for money and the average age is very, very old. The Priests are old and there are not that many of them. One Priest runs from the Irish churches 4PM Mass to the Italian churches 5:30PM Mass. My town has 5 Catholic churches at least two should close.

  65. This decision is so disappointing! I'm a Catholic (lapsed) from birth, and after the pedophilia exposure I expected Pope Francis would make big changes in the celibacy arena. We Catholics know that there are many children of priests! Some were/are financially supported by the Church. But, all are fatherless. What a terrible situation celibacy has brought to the Church. It has provided the perfect environment for pedophiles AND for fatherless children. What kind of religion tolerates these?

  66. Nonsensical cult ideology needs to just die out of existence.

  67. Just goes to show how far behind the times is the Catholic Church. No condoms is one inexcusable rule. The often ignored prohibition of divorce. meanwhile the church has a history of Popes having children. More evidence that religion is a fraud.

  68. You have to rethink about this crucial matter. Vatican may have to file for multiple bankrupcies for failing to meet the legal fees and compensations for the victims.

  69. This is disappointing, though hardly surprising. Celibacy should be presented as an option for the priesthood. For most, those with primarily diocesan duties, administering a parish, teaching, etc, there is no reason why a priest should not marry (and I am including same sex partners in this, though I know it is a pipe dream). It might even make them better priests. For those in monastic orders, celibacy would seem to be a necessary requirement. Any priest choosing that kind of life would have to accept that. But they are a distinct minority among Catholic clergy. As for women, for a church that professes the divinity of Christ's mother, it is inexcusable that they not permit women to be ordained as priests. So many are willing, able and desirous of that vocation and what they could bring to church in that role is invaluable.

  70. Codger, FYI, the Church has NEVER considered Mary divine. She is a human given the gift of freedom of original sin, and is defined as being the Mother of God - Theotokos - by the Council of Ephesus. Look it up.

  71. As a non-Catholic, and in fact, a non-believer, I still mourn at the Catholic Church's tendency to tend toward medievalism. The Church wields tremendous influence and now has a history of taking hundreds of children as hostages to depravity. I had hoped it would take into consideration a policy, i.e. of married clergy, which would most certainly help to ameliorate the use of little children as sexual gratification. Sometimes it is hard not to despair and feel that the world is moving backwards from democratic ideals in favor of a totalitarian ideologies.

  72. So, those with little chance to receive the Eucharist in the Amazon will continue to be denied so as to protect church tradition. With the devastating political climate here in the US, I wasn’t prepared for this terribly sad decision by Pope Francis. The Catholic conservatives are no better than the Christian Right who wield such political power. As for Francis, I can’t quite articulate my feelings right now. God help us.

  73. @Sandi "With the devastating political climate here in the US, I wasn’t prepared for this terribly sad decision by Pope Francis. " Well, Steve Bannon travels to the Vatican now to stoke and advise all those who oppose Francis. So it's not exactly a stretch to connect the political climate in the U.S. to the forces making it hard for Francis to be a transformative force in the Catholic church. There was hope that he would be, but my hope is fading.

  74. What a terrifically sad, missed opportunity for this Pope. His Church is sinking around his ears, yet he turns a blind eye to the dearth of priests, by slamming the door on the need to remove the non-doctrine tradition of celibacy. Congregations are fleeing, too, because he also won't revisit the notion of allowing The Pill or even condoms for contraception. I had such hopes for him, that these solutions to some of the Church's biggest problems would be at last solved when he was elevated, but I guess those hopes must be transferred to the next Pope. Francis is just another Vatican placeholder.

  75. The conservatives tend to forget that at one time priests could be married. In the long history of Catholicism, celibacy is a fairly recent change only a few hundred years old. They also seem fixated on rules and orthodoxy for the sake of rules and orthodoxy.

  76. Instead of having married priests in remote areas, the church has many remote priests in married areas. This is somehow the more moral choice. I don't understand.