Catholic Church's celibacy rule 'can change' according to Pope Francis

March 20, 2013 at 4:18 PM  |  Updated March 21, 2013 at 10:24 AM   |   0 comments

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March 20 (UPI) -- During an interview in Buenos Aires last year Pope Francis suggested the Catholic Church's rule that priests must be celibate "can change."

According to NBC news, the pontiff cited the married clergy of eastern churches as examples of "very good priests," and claimed that those asking for a change in Catholicism's celibacy rule do it with "certain pragmatism."

The Pope's open mind about the subject, however, doesn't mean that he's advocating for a change in the rules. But the fact that he's willing to discuss it is remarkable.

The National Catholic Reporter's Vatican analyst, Father Thomas Reese, said the Pope's remarks on celibacy were surprising given that "the last few popes have been pretty clear they were not open to changing it or having a discussion about it."

The former Jorge Bergoglio made the comments last year while he was the cardinal of Buenos Aires in Argentina.

Bergoglio's position regarding celibacy might stem from a time when he was "dazzled" by a woman. During the same interview, the then-cardinal shared a personal anecdote about his life in the seminary.

"I was dazzled by a girl I met at an uncle's wedding," he said. "I was surprised by her beauty, her intellectual brilliance ... and, well, I was bowled over for quite a while.

"I kept thinking and thinking about her. When I returned to the seminary after the wedding, I could not pray for over a week because when I tried to do so, the girl appeared in my head. I had to rethink what I was doing."

Though Bergoglio chose the church over the woman, he admitted not everyone has strength to do that.

"When something like this happens to a seminarian, I help him go in peace to be a good Christian and not a bad priest," Bergoglio said.

As of now, the newly elected bishop of Rome favors maintaining the rule for the church has "ten centuries of good experiences rather than failures [with it]."

"It is a matter of discipline, not of faith," he added. "It can change."

You can read Pope Francis' entire interview on Aleteia.org

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