Vatican City, Jan 28, 2019 / 06:35 am America/Denver (CNA).
Pope Francis said Monday he is opposed to the idea of optional priestly celibacy in the Latin rite, and he would consider it only for very remote places if a serious need existed.
“Personally, I think that celibacy is a gift to the Church,” the pope said Jan. 28. “I would say that I do not agree with allowing optional celibacy, no.”
Speaking aboard the papal plane from Panama to Rome, Pope Francis said he does think there is room to consider an exceptions for married clergy in the Latin rite in “very far places” “when there is a pastoral necessity” due to a lack of priests, such as in the Pacific islands.
However, he said that he has not thought or prayed sufficiently about the issue to come to a decision on it, and that he would not want to put himself “before God with this decision,” even if it suggests he is “narrow-minded.”
His comments were made ahead of a synod on the pan-Amazon region to be held in October, at which priestly celibacy is expected to be discussed as it pertains to the remote Amazon basin where there is often a shortage of priests.