As per the Catholic Church’s Code of Canon, Law celibacy is a “special gift of God” which allows practitioners to follow more closely the example of Christ, who was chaste among them priests.
Pope Francis has been considering easing the ban on married men serving as priests, following a gathering by Catholic bishops from around the world in October to deliberate on the future of the Church in the Amazon. Among the suggestions was that in remote parts of the Amazon, older, married men should be ordained.
The South American bishops have advocated this in an effort to address the shortage of priests in the region and Pope Francis is expected to consider it along with many other proposals, including the environment and the role of women in the Church within the next few months.
Retired Pope Benedict XVI, a theological conservative with traditional views on Catholic values has finally weighed in on the issue in a book he co-authored, a response to the proposal to allow married men to be ordained as priests in the Amazon region.
In the book, Pope Benedict insists that celibacy, a centuries-old tradition within the Church, has great significance because it allows priests to focus on their duties and that it doesn’t seem possible to realise both vocations [priesthood and marriage] simultaneously.
The Vatican offered no comment on the book nor did they specify when Pope Francis might respond to the proposal, while others have reacted with surprise to Benedict’s intervention, despite having vowed to remain ‘hidden from view’ following his sudden retirement in 2013.