Ven. Pope Gregory XVI vs. NBC News: Celibacy Debate

AUGUST 15, 1832

” Now, however, We want you to rally to combat the abominable conspiracy against clerical celibacy. This conspiracy spreads daily and is promoted by profligate philosophers, some even from the clerical order. They have forgotten their person and office, and have been carried away by the enticements of pleasure. They have even dared to make repeated public demands to the princes for the abolition of that most holy discipline. But it is disgusting to dwell on these evil attempts at length. Rather, We ask that you strive with all your might to justify and to defend the law of clerical celibacy as prescribed by the sacred canons, against which the arrows of the lascivious are directed from every side.”

Archbishop Pietro Parolin, the secretary of state of the Vatican, opens up about potential modifications to the strict traditions of priestly celibacy. Pope Francis addressed the matter last year, prior to becoming pope, saying he was in favor of maintaining the tradition “for the moment.” NBC’s Michelle Kosinski reports from London.

By F. Brinley Bruton, Staff Writer, NBC News

The Vatican’s new secretary of state has said that priestly celibacy is not church dogma and therefore open to discussion, marking a significant change in approach towards one of the thorniest issues facing the Roman Catholic Church.

“Celibacy is not an institution but look, it is also true that you can discuss (it) because as you say this is not a dogma, a dogma of the church,” Archbishop Pietro Parolin said in response to a question during an interview with Venezuelan newspaper El Universal.

Archbishop Pietro Parolin is the Vatican’s secretary of state.

He added that while it was not dogma, clerical celibacy was a deeply entrenched Catholic tradition.

“The efforts that the church made to keep ecclesiastical celibacy, to impose ecclesiastical celibacy, have to be taken into consideration,” Parolin said. “One cannot say simply that this belongs in the past.”

As secretary of state, Parolin is the head of government and seen as the most powerful official at the Vatican after the pontiff.

Many of Pope Francis’ predecessors had declared the subject off-limits.

“There has been a lot of resistance to discussing the issue of celibacy,” said Abigal Frymann, online editor and former foreign editor with U.K.-based Catholic weekly The Tablet. “[Parolin’s comments] open up a fascinating argument.”

Father Federico Lombardi, the director of the Holy See’s press office, said Parolin’s comments were “in line with the teachings of the church.”
NBC News’ Claudio Lavanga contributed to this report.

Get AQ Email Updates

2 comments on “Ven. Pope Gregory XVI vs. NBC News: Celibacy Debate

  1. When celibacy is dropped who is going to pay for the priest’s family, since they can’t use contraception many priests will have huge families. What happens if a wife divorces him who pays for the settlement? How about when you have rebellious kids of the priests running around the parish. OH NO!! the dropping of celibacy causes more issues than celibacy.

  2. Every farcical disaster starts out with its idiotic proponents crying, “It’s about time!”

    I have never felt the call to the hermit life – preferably in the Alps – as I have since March of this year!

    : -)

Leave a Reply