Senior cardinal calls for reexamination of clerical celibacy in light of abuses

Via the Times of London:

A senior cardinal has called for priestly celibacy to be re-examined in the light of sex scandals sweeping the Roman Catholic Church. Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, conservative Archbishop of Vienna and a protégé of the Pope, shocked the Vatican by suggesting that it should carry out an “unflinching examination” of causes of the scandal. These included “the issue of priests’ training”, he wrote in his archdiocese magazine, “the question of priest celibacy and the question of personality development. It requires a great deal of honesty, both on the part of the Church and of society as a whole”.

The Vatican said the remarks had been misinterpreted. “Priestly celibacy is a gift of the Holy Spirit,” Cardinal Claudio Hummes, prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, said at a theological convention on priestly fidelity. Cardinal Schönborn’s spokesman, Erich Leitenberger, issued a clarification later claiming that the cardinal was not “in any way seeking to question the Catholic Church’s celibacy rule”. Sources in Rome said he had been obliged to issue his “clarification” under pressure from the Holy See.

The cardinal, a respected conservative theologian, has a history of sparking controversy. He is an ordinary — or bishop — to Austria’s Eastern Rite Catholics, whose priests are allowed to marry, just as priests in the new Anglican Ordinariates being set up around the world for ex-Anglican clergy will be allowed to marry. Last year in Rome, Cardinal Schönborn, who has always been close to the Pope, presented a petition signed by leading Austrian lay Catholics calling for the abolition of the requirement for priestly celibacy. Cardinal Schönborn told Vatican Radio last year that he did not agree with the petition’s conclusions, which also included a demand for women deacons, but added: “It is important for someone in Rome to know what some of our lay people are thinking about the problems of the Church.”

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One Response

  1. Woah, woah, woah… “unflinching examination”? That’s very un-Catholic. Catholics don’t examine anything unflinchingly except our consciences before confession.

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