Pope: Priest 'Celibacy Is Not a Dogma'

And papal retirement could become more common
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted May 27, 2014 8:56 AM CDT
Pope: Priest 'Celibacy Is Not a Dogma'
Pope Francis adjusts his cap as he talks to journalists during a press conference he held aboard the papal flight on his way back to Rome at the end of a three day trip to the Midle East, Monday, May 26, 2014   (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini, Pool)

Sure, Catholic priests are usually celibate—but that tradition has only been around for about 1,000 years, Reuters notes. And according to Pope Francis, "celibacy is not a dogma." He tells reporters that "it is a rule of life that I appreciate very much and I think it is a gift for the Church, but since it is not a dogma, the door is always open" to changing policies. It was the first time Francis had addressed the issue as pope, though he had said similar things as archbishop.

Speaking to reporters yesterday, the pope also noted that papal retirements like his predecessor's could be the new normal, Reuters reports. "I think that Benedict XVI is not a unique case. I think we should see him as an institution who opened a door, the door of emeritus popes." Would Francis ever retire? "I will do what the Lord tells me to do," he said. In the same press conference aboard his plane, he discussed a "zero tolerance" policy for child abuse and noted that inviting the presidents of Israel and Palestine to the Vatican was a spontaneous move, the Washington Post reports. (Read more Catholic priest stories.)

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