The new Pope has said some radically progressive things since assuming power (well, radically progressive by Pope standards that is) in just his first year. From his declaration that atheists can get into heaven, to his claim that he won’t “judge” gay priests, Francis is already proving to be open to some changes. Now, the Pope’s second-in-command is saying that the whole clerical celibacy thing might be up for debate.
"It is not a church dogma and it can be discussed because it is a church tradition," said Archbishop Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s new Secretary of State.
It’s not exactly a call to arms, but even the mere suggestion that there’s room for discussion on the issue is a big step for the Church. In 2006, a group of progressive Austrian priests launched a protest movement of sorts, called the Pfarrer Initiative, wherein they encouraged their fellow priests to break celibacy vows as a means of forcing change on the issue. Then-Pope Benedict responded by questioning their motives and insisting that they were acting not out of concern for the Church, but simply to fulfill their own “preferences and ideas.”
Parolin was careful to note, however, that celibacy can’t be done away with overnight.
“The work the church did to institute ecclesiastical celibacy must be considered," he said. “We cannot simply say that it is part of the past."
When you think about it, though, the phrasing of this suggests that maybe Parolin wants to “simply say that it is part of the past,” but recognizes that it’s impossible, due to how institutionally entrenched the policy is.
It’s obviously way too early to speculate as to whether this will ultimately have any effect on Church doctrine, but when taken in totality with some of the Pope’s recent statements, Parolin’s comments do hint that, under his new leadership, the Church may be becoming a bit less ideologically-rigid.
In also news, Pope Francis will also now be driving his own used car: