Pope Francis wants to change ancient tradition of celibacy.
Pope Francis has requested Catholic priests be allowed to marry. This is because of the recent shortage of priests in most areas of Brazil. Pope Francis requested this on behalf of many local bishops who are asking him to end the celibacy of the parish clergy. For many people, especially Catholics, celibacy among priests is a sensitive topic. Therefore, the Pope’s choice is receiving many reactions.
For starters, the decision will affect the church worldwide. Tracing back to at least the 4th century, the church has required its priests be celibate. Despite the fact that the change is supposed to target the shortage of priests in Brazil, it is also addressing the worldwide matter at hand – there are fewer men coming forward for ordination than in the past. For instance, in France the average age of their clergy is above 60 years old. In Ireland, Maynooth seminary, which has the capacity to teach 500 priests a year, only received 6 new registrants this year.
In Brazil, which has the largest Catholic population worldwide, one out of every five Catholics are leaving the faith. This leaves a need for the bishops to retrace their steps and check where their administration went inactive. It can further be attributed to the issue of a shortage of priests to minister to the multitude, hence a need to revise the requirement of celibacy in ordaining priests.
Cardinal Claudio Hummes made the request to the Pope, in hopes it will increase the number of aspiring priests coming forward. Some bishops are not for the change, giving reasons such as a married clergy would break the economic and cultural basis of the west since the parishioners would have to pay for the priest’s family’s living, hence requiring a monthly income for him. There is also the risk of divorce, which is not advocated for in the church.
The pros and cons of ending the celibacy of priests are almost equal, and therefore, the outcome of this possible change would result in a huge religious, economic, and cultural impact on the Catholic Church.