Pope to Consider Allowing Married Priests as Long as They Are Celibate

Pope Francis told reporters during an inflight press conference on the papal flight back to Rome from Panama that he was open to the idea of “mature married men” becoming priests in areas where there is a priest shortage like the Pacific Islands and the Amazon. The question was in reference to an upcoming conference in the fall of 2019 with Catholics from areas which currently do not have priests to perform sacraments like Holy Communion, marriage and confession. “In the Eastern Catholic churches, they can do it,” the pope said, according to the official transcript of the in-flight press conference. But there is a catch. The pope is not willing to bend on celibacy in the priesthood, meaning any married men would have to take the vow of celibacy to be ordained. “Personally, I believe that celibacy is a gift to the Church,” he said. “I’m not in agreement with allowing optional celibacy. No!”