PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — What is it about papal press conferences taking place on planes?
His Holiness Pope Francis seems to enjoy stirring the pot at 33,000-feet up. After discussing same-sex couples on a previous flight, this time the 77-year-old pontiff responded to questions about celibacy and married priests.
“The important piece for people to recognize,” says Bishop David Zubik of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, “is we’re not talking about dogma here; we’re talking about a discipline, and disciplines can change.”
Bishop Zubik says it is critical to listen to other voices, and does not believe that celibacy is central to the priesthood.
However, he thinks that taking care of a family and a flock would be very difficult to do both at the same time.
“I just say from my own life, I could not imagine how that could be possible,” he said.
Here’s what Pope Francis said: “The Catholic Church has married priests in the Eastern rites. Celibacy is not a dogma of faith; it is a rule of life that I appreciate a great deal, and I believe it is a gift for the church. The door is always open, given that it is not a dogma of faith.”
“And for the first thousand years or so of the Catholic Church there were married priests. St. Peter was married,” said Bill Batz, who is an ordained, married deacon in the Roman Catholic Church.
He sees both sides of the question.
“There is a long tradition of celibacy, which is a wonderful tradition of men sacrificing their lives for the church and the community, which is a very noble and wonderful vocation,” he said.
Nichole Werder, who will be Confirmed in the Catholic Church Friday evening, said this, “As Catholics, we are accepting of other people with it. So, we should be accepting of that kind of thing, too.”
But Eileen Creedon, on her way to Mass at St. Mary’s in Downtown Pittsburgh, prefers a traditional stance.
“It’s an individual decision really. It’s been forever,” she said. “In my opinion they should not be married.”
But will priests get to marry anytime soon? Not likely.
But Pope Francis sure has a talent for getting people thinking.