The Vatican’s new secretary of state, Archbishop Pietro Parolin said this week that the issue of priest celibacy is not dogma and is therefore up for discussion.
“The work the church did to institute ecclesiastical celibacy must be considered,” said Parolin, who will officially assume the role of secretary of state in October. “We cannot simply say that it is part of the past. It is a great challenge for the pope, because he is the one with the ministry of unity and all of those decisions must be made thinking of the unity of the church and not to divide it.
Therefore we can talk, reflect, and deepen on these subjects that are not definite, and we can think of some modifications, but always with consideration of unity, and all according to the will of God. It is not about what I would like but what God wants for His church,” Parolin added.
While not dogma, the tradition has been in place for centuries. Huffington Post reports that the first chastity rules appeared in 304 C.E.
“It is a tradition, and the concept lives on within the church because during the course of all these years things have happened that have contributed to develop God’s revelation,” Parolin said.
The move has some speculating that archbishop’s comments could lead to the potential for married priests.
Milwaukee’s local WTMJ notes that according to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, the Catholic Church has seen a decline in its its numbers of priests over the last half century, from 60,000 to 39,000.