Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Aleteia
Saturday 18 September |
Saint of the Day: Bl. Daudi Okelo and Bl. Jildo Irwa
home iconSpirituality
line break icon

Celibacy, Sex Abuse, Wayward Bishops: Pope Covers Several Topics on Flight to Rome

AFP PHOTO/POOL/ANDREW MEDICHINI

IN FLIGHT : Pope Francis 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, on May 26, 2014. Pope Francis praised the "courage" of Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas after both agreed to come to the Vatican to pray with him for peace. Abbas and Peres "have the courage to move forward", Francis told reporters on his return flight from a three-day trip to the Middle East that was packed with powerful symbolism but with politics never far behind. AFP PHOTO/POOL/ANDREW MEDICHINI

Aleteia - published on 05/27/14

Midair press conference provides Francis another opportunity to surprise.

ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE (AP) — Pope Francis addressed a number of topics posed by journalists during his flight back to Rome from his Holy Land pilgrimage. One was the question of a married priesthood.

“The Catholic Church has married priests – Greek Catholics, Coptic Catholics, those of Oriental rites,” the pope explained. “Celibacy is not a question of dogma, but rather a rule of life that I greatly appreciate, as I believe it is a gift for the Church. But, since it is not a dogma of faith, the door is always open.”

That openness, however, would not apply to celibate men who are already ordained priests or deacons. In Eastern Catholic (and Orthodox) Churches, married men may become ordained ministers, but priests are not free to marry.

So the 26 women claiming to be the secret paramours of priests who recently petitioned the pope to change the Church’s celibacy requirements shouldn’t get their hopes up.

The pope also announced during the flight Monday that he would meet soon with a group of sex abuse victims at the Vatican and declared "zero tolerance" for any member of the clergy who would violate a child.

Francis revealed that three bishops are currently under investigation by the Vatican for abuse-related reasons, though it wasn’t clear if they were accused of committing abuse itself or of having covered it up.

"There are no privileges," he told reporters en route back to Rome from Jerusalem.

The meeting with a half-dozen victims will mark the first such encounter for the pope, who has been criticized by victims for not expressing personal solidarity with them when he has reached out to other people who suffer.

Francis said the meeting and a Mass at the Vatican hotel where he lives would take place early next month. A statement from the office of Cardinal Sean O’Malley, the archbishop of Boston who is organizing the encounter, said the date and details hadn’t been finalized but that the meeting was expected to take place "in the coming months."

"On this issue we must go forward, forward. Zero tolerance," Francis said, calling abuse of children an "ugly" crime that betrays God.

The executive director of the main U.S. victims’ group, Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, dismissed the meeting as "another public relations coup…that will leave no child better off and bring no real reform to a continuing, scandal-ridden Church hierarchy."

SNAP Executive Director David Clohessy said the pope has shown himself capable of making real change in other areas such as Church governance and finance but hasn’t done so in dealing with sex abuse by Catholic clergy.

But a U.S. attorney who represents clergy abuse victims hoped the meeting would be "substantive and meaningful" rather than for cosmetic purposes. Attorney Mitchell Garabedian said "meeting directly with victims is the most powerful tool that the pope can use in understanding the ugliness and horror of clergy sexual abuse and why it must be stopped or prevented." He added that there should be more than one such meeting.

Francis spoke to reporters for nearly an hour after his grueling, three-day trip to Jordan, the West Bank and Israel, taking all 11 questions posed and responding with candor and occasional humor.

He said he would travel to Sri Lanka for two days and the Philippines in January 2015. And he suggested that he might follow in emeritus Pope Benedict XVI’s footsteps and retire if he no longer had the strength to do the job.

"We need to look at him as an institution: he opened a door, the door of emeritus popes," Francis said. "Only God knows if there will be others, but the door is open."

  • 1
  • 2
Tags:
AbuseMarriagePope Francis

Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read Aleteia.org every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...




Top 10
1
Kathleen N. Hattrup
Pope considers what to do with pro-abortion Catholic politicians
2
Berthe and Marcel
Lauriane Vofo Kana
This couple has the longest marriage in France
3
ARGENTINE CHILDREN
Esteban Pittaro
Argentine “Mother Teresa” was a former model and actress who embr...
4
Kathleen N. Hattrup
On same-sex unions, Pope says Church doesn’t have power to change...
5
Mathilde De Robien
How a lost masterpiece of sacred art was discovered thanks to chi...
6
communion
Philip Kosloski
How receiving Holy Communion can drive away demons
7
CROSS
Philip Kosloski
Why is the feast of the Holy Cross celebrated on September 14?
See More
Newsletter
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.