The Catholic Pope Francis II has stirred Christians around the world by his latest statement which says he would consider ordaining older married men who are involved in the church business as priests.
The pontiff said the possibility – which the church describes a viri probati, is aimed at assigning more priests to rural regions where there are too many Catholic put fewer priests. In an interview with German weekly Die Zeit, Pope Francis said:
“We must think about whether viri probati are a possibility. Then we have to decide what tasks they can take on, for example in remote communities.”
Pope Francis stressed that while he favors a celibate priesthood, celibacy technically can be up for discussion since it’s a discipline of the church, not a dogma. The viri probati proposal has been up for debate for several years but was recently raised by a Brazilian Cardinal Claudio Hummes who believed it should be allowed in the Amazon [Brazil] where the church counts around one priest for every 10,000 Catholics.
The Catholic church has retained the tradition of ordaining men who have sworn to a life of celibacy for decades and is unlikely the church will ever do away with a tradition that has lasted up to 1,000 years without careful consideration. Hence it is also likely that any change in this discipline would be first implemented locally.
Celibacy is highly valued for its imitation of Jesus Christ whose own celibacy was a sign of his total devotion to the reign of God. According to the Code of Canon Law, Clerics are obliged to observe perfect and perpetual continence for the sake of the Kingdom of God and therefore, are bound to celibacy which is considered a special gift of God by which sacred ministers can adhere more easily to Christ with an undivided heart.
By being free from the obligations of marriage and family life, priests are free to live out the pastoral demands of the priesthood.
This is also as Apostle Paul’s letter to the Corinthians 7:32-37 explains:
“The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord – how he will please God; But the married man is anxious about worldly matters – how he may please his wife – and he is drawn in diverging directions, his interests are divided and he is distracted from his devotion to God.”
St. Paul said the same about married and unmarried women and he said in chapter 35:
“Now I say this for your own welfare and profit, not to put a restraint upon you, but to promote what is seemly and in good order and to secure your undistracted and undivided devotion to the Lord.”
– chapter 36:
“But if any man thinks he is not acting properly towards and in regard to his virgin, in case she is passing the bloom of her youth and if there is a need for it, let him do what to him seems right; he does not sin; let him marry.”
– chapter 37:
“But whoever is firmly established in his heart, not being forced by necessity but having control over his own will and desire, and has resolved this in his heart to keep his own virginity, he is doing well.”