Celibacy is not optional for priests – Pope Francis

Pope Francis

Pope Francis on Sunday said that he does not support the call for celibacy to be made optional in the Catholic Church.

Priestly celibacy was not widely enforced until the 12th century.

Priests in the Catholic Church are bound by the law of celibacy from getting married.

The Pope told reporters aboard a plane returning from Panama on Sunday that he was open to further study of the possibility of ordaining older married men in exceptional circumstances in remote areas with a severe shortage of priests.

“Personally I think that celibacy is a gift to the Church. I am not in agreement (with those who say) optional celibacy should be permitted.

“My decision is ‘no’ to optional celibacy … that is what I think. I will not do it and this remains clear. Am I closed minded? Perhaps, but I don’t feel that I can make this decision before God,” he said.

Celibacy is not a formal doctrine of the Church and so can be changed.

Priests are allowed to marry in the Orthodox and Eastern Rite Churches as well as Pentecostal and Anglican Churches.