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In 2012 interview, Pope Francis (then-Cardinal Bergoglio) reveals secret of celibacy

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Aleteia - published on 03/18/13



Skorka: What does it mean to get back on track?

Bergoglio: To do penance, to keep their celibacy. The double life is no good for us. I don’t like it because it means building on falsehood. Sometimes I say: “If you can not overcome it, make your decision.”


Skorka: I would like to clarify that a priest who falls in love with a girl and then confesses is one thing, and a case of pedophilia is quite another. Pedophilia has to be cut off at the roots. It’s very serious. Two adults who love each other having an affair is something else.

Bergoglio: The idea that pedophilia is a consequence of celibacy is ruled out. More than seventy percent of cases of pedophilia occur in the family and neighborhood: grandparents, uncles, stepfathers, neighbors. The problem is not linked to celibacy. If a priest is a pedophile, he is so before he is a priest. 

Now, when that happens, we must never turn a blind eye. You cannot be in a position of power and destroy the life of another person. In the diocese it never happened to me, but a bishop once called me to ask me by phone what to do in a situation like that and I told him to take away the priests’ licenses, not to allow them to exercise the priesthood any more, and to begin a canonical trial in that diocese’s court. I think that’s the attitude to have. I do not believe in taking positions that uphold a certain corporative spirit in order to avoid damaging the image of the institution. That solution was proposed once in the United States: they proposed switching the priests to a different parish. It is a stupid idea; that way, the priest just takes the problem with him wherever he goes. The corporate reaction leads to such a result, so I do not agree with those solutions. Recently, there were cases uncovered in Ireland from about twenty years ago, and the present Pope [Benedict XVI] clearly said: “Zero tolerance for that crime.” I admire the courage and uprightness of Pope Benedict on the subject.

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