Married priests is much more likely than any other major reform
by Pope Francis says one theologian.
Will Pope Francis allow priests to marry? Possibly, if a leading Irish-born Catholic theologian is to believed.
Everyone is waiting for the big move from this pope, who has set out his stall as a very different kind of pontiff, one who seems determined to make a difference.
Like John XXIII who changed the church forever with the Second Vatican Council, Francis seems intent on revolutionary change in an institution that badly needs a makeover.
What will that change be? Married priests seems to be the most obvious and potentially doable change.
Irish native Dr. Thomas Groome, Professor of Theology and Pastoral Ministry at Boston College and a priest for seventeen years before leaving, told New York Times columnist Bill Keller that 'married priests was much more likely than any other major reform by Pope Francis.'
“Lots of people don’t see [celibacy] as some extraordinary act of witness,” Groome said.
'"They see it as just a peculiar lifestyle, and one not to be trusted...The loneliness of it, I think, can drive people crazy," he told me. "I’ve known hundreds of priests in my life," from student days in an Irish seminary through the priesthood and decades as a theologian.'
"I don’t know too many diocesan priests, maybe three or four, who have lived a rich, life-giving, celibate lifestyle."
As Keller notes, the full ordination of women or full equality for gays are issues that are way too entangled in past Catholic doctrine to ever succeed.
But celibacy is different. After all, there is no infallible pronouncement, the apostles had wives, and priests could marry for the first 1,000 years of the church until church leaders changed the rules, mostly to secure church property against priests' families inheritance claims.
In addition, there are married priests currently across the world who join the Catholic Church from other denominations where they are already ordained and married ministers.
Will it happen in the Catholic Church? A mere year or two ago such a move would have been impossible.
Now Francis has changed everything and anything is possible.