The Assistant Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith Archbishop Charles Scicluna has suggested that the Catholic Church should “seriously think” about allowing priests to marry.
In an interview, the Archbishop of La Valletta, Malta, acknowledged that his comments might sound “heretical” to some, as it is the first time he has publicly addressed the issue. The Archbishop, also an Assistant Secretary in the doctrinal office of the Vatican, raised the possibility of reviewing the celibacy requirement for priests.
The Archbishop expressed his personal opinion, stating that, in his view, the celibacy requirement for priests should be reconsidered. He argued that experience has shown him that it is necessary to seriously consider this matter.
Scicluna, 64, highlighted that the Church has lost many good priests because they chose to marry. He recognized the importance of celibacy in the Church but also pointed out that the institution must consider that priests, at times, fall in love. This poses the difficult choice between “her and the priesthood,” and some priests handle this by secretly engaging in romantic relationships.
Opponents of married priesthood in the Catholic Church argue that celibacy allows a priest to dedicate himself entirely to the Church. In 2021, the Pope dismissed a proposal to allow some older married men to be ordained in remote areas of the Amazon.
Pope Francis, in 2019, ruled out the possibility of changing the Roman Catholic rule that requires priests to be celibate. Although it is not a formal doctrine of the Church and could change with a future Pope, the current Pope’s position has been firm on this issue.
In an interview in 2023, Francis commented again on the celibacy rule, stating that it is “not eternal, like priestly ordination,” but a “discipline” that could be revised.