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“[Celibacy] is certainly not a dogma. It is an accustomed way of life that evolved very early in the Church on good biblical grounds. (…) It is not a dogma. It is a form of life that has grown up in the Church and that naturally always brings with it the danger of a fall. When one aims so high, there are failures. I think that what provokes people today against celibacy is that they see how many priests really aren’t inwardly in agreement with it and either live it hypocritically, badly, not at all, or only live it in a tortured way. So people say.

(…)

One ought not to declare that any custom of the Church’s life, no matter how deeply anchored and well founded, is wholly absolute. To be sure, the Church will have to ask herself the question again and again (…) But I think that given the whole history of Western Christianity and the inner vision that lies at the basis of the whole, the Church should not believe that she will easily gain much by resorting to this uncoupling [of celibacy and priesthood]; rather in any case she will lose if she does so.

(…)

[I don’t believe that there will be married priests], at least not in the foreseeable future. To be quite honest, I must say that we do have married priests, who came to us as converts from the Anglican Church or from various Protestant communities. In exceptional cases, then, it is possible, but they are just that — exceptional situations. And I think that these will also remain exceptional cases in the future.”

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Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger  (future Pope Benedict XVI)

Salt of the Earth

[book co-authored with Peter Seewald, with due permission from Ratzinger,

published by Ignatius Press, 1997]

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