VATICAN CITY, Jan 8 – Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta, a senior Vatican official and advisor to Pope Francis, suggested in a recent interview that the Roman Catholic Church should seriously consider permitting priests to marry.
Speaking openly for the first time on the matter, Archbishop Scicluna acknowledged that his viewpoint might be considered heretical by some.
He emphasized that the celibacy requirement for priests, though upheld by Pope Francis in 2019, is not a formal doctrine of the Church and could potentially be reconsidered by a future pope.
In a 2023 interview with a Latin American news outlet, Pope Francis himself discussed the celibacy rule, describing it as a “discipline” rather than an eternal aspect of priestly ordination.
While the Pope acknowledged the historical allowance of priests to marry in the Church’s early centuries and in the Eastern rite today, a Vatican spokesman did not offer any comment.
Archbishop Scicluna, known for his investigations into sexual abuse crimes, highlighted that the Church had lost valuable priests to marriage and expressed the need for serious contemplation on revising the celibacy requirement. He acknowledged the validity of celibacy in the Church but also recognized the challenges priests face when falling in love, leading some to engage in secret sentimental relationships.
The debate over whether Roman Catholic priests should be allowed to marry has persisted for centuries. In contrast to the Roman Catholic Church’s stance, married men can become priests in the Eastern Rite and Orthodox Churches, as well as in Protestant and Anglican denominations.
Opponents of a married priesthood within Roman Catholicism argue that celibacy allows priests to fully dedicate themselves to the Church. In 2021, Pope Francis dismissed a proposal to ordain some elderly married men in remote areas of the Amazon, where priests were scarce, asserting the importance of maintaining the celibacy requirement.