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Pope Francis: 'Door is always open' for priests to marry someday

Pope Francis surprised reporters when he took questions for an hour after waiving off the Vatican spokesman's 15 minute time allotment for journalists.
By Aileen Graef   |   May 27, 2014 at 4:39 PM   |   Comments

JERUSALEM, May 27 (UPI) -- Pope Francis took questions on priests possibly marrying someday, his zero tolerance sexual abuse policy and his possible retirement one day.

A group of women that are allegedly secret lovers of priests wrote Pope Francis last week asking for the pontiff to let priests marry and end their celibacy restrictions. When addressed by reporters, Pope Francis was not closed off to the idea.

"The Catholic Church has married priests in the Eastern rites," he said. "Celibacy is not a dogma of faith; it is a rule of life that I appreciate a great deal, and I believe it is a gift for the Church. The door is always open, given that it is not a dogma of faith."

He also announced there will be a zero-tolerance policy on sexual abuse with no preferential treatment toward anyone.

"A priest must guide children toward sainthood. And the child trusts him. But instead, he abuses him or her. This is very serious. It's like celebrating a satanic mass," the pope asserted.

He wrapped up the conversation by addressing retirement. His predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI made waves when he left his post early, making him the first pope to step down in over 600 years. He said that if he feels like his health declines to the point that he can no longer do his duty, he will step down.

"Seventy years ago, Popes Emeritus didn't exist. What will happen with Popes Emeritus? We need to look at Benedict XVI as an institution, he opened a door, that of the Popes Emeritus. The door is open, whether there will be others, only God knows. I believe that if a bishop of Rome feels he is losing his strength, he must ask himself the same questions Pope Benedict XVI did."

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