the Catholic Church is open to reviewing its thousand-year-old practice of celibacy, Pope Francis has suggested.
He said the ban was only ‘temporary’ and there was also ‘no contradiction’ for a priest to marry.
Celibacy was made a requirement by the Catholic Church in the 11th-century for financial reasons, as clergy without children were more likely to leave their wealth to the church.
The Vatican enforces the rule among priests – but there are growing calls to end the ban.
It comes after Germany’s Catholic Church voted for a resolution requesting that the Pope end the obligation for priests to be celibate.
In an interview with Argentine publication Infobae, Pope Francis, 86, said: ‘There is no contradiction for a priest to marry. Celibacy in the western Church is a temporary prescription.
‘It is not eternal like priestly ordination, which is for ever whether you like it or not. On the other hand, celibacy is a discipline.’
The Pope also cited the example of the Eastern Church – a branch of Catholicism which allows more leeway – and said: ‘Everyone in the Eastern Church is married, or those who want to. Before ordination there is the choice to marry or to be celibate.’
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