One of Pope Francis’ top advisers on clerical sexual abuse has called again for the global church to reconsider the celibacy requirement for ordained priests – to prevent some priests leading ‘double lives’.
Archbishop Charles Scicluna has told the US National Catholic Reporter that: “One of my worries is that people are put in a situation where they are comfortable with a double life.”
This repeats a call made by the archbishop earlier in January 2024 for reconsideration of the ban on marriage for Catholic priests ordained in the western church. He was commenting on priests who live in hidden relationships.
Pope Francis is known to respect the opinion of the archbishop, who persuaded him to change his mind on allegations of mishandling of the issue of abuse by the bishops of Chile in 2018.
In 2012 the then Monsignor Scicluna advised that, to help restore trust between bishops and people over the issue of clerical child abuse, bishops should be accountable to their people. The issue of accountability is part of the ongoing ‘synodality’ discussions.
At the Vatican’s 2019 synod on the Amazon a majority of two-thirds of Amazonian bishops voted that priests should be allowed the option of marriage, but so far Pope Francis has not changed the ‘Stop’ sign to green. Might Archbishop Scicluna’s highlighting of the issue for a second time in a month be a signal that change could come in October 2024, at the culmination of the universal synod on synodality?
To read the complete NCR report of the archbishop’s interview, click here.