Archbishop Charles Scicluna, of Malta, who doubles as Assistant Secretary at the Vatican’s Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, has expressed his belief that the Catholic Church should reconsider its priestly celibacy requirement in the Latin rite.
In a recent interview published on Jan. 7, Archbishop Scicluna advocated for a serious contemplation of revising the Western discipline, stating, “If it were up to me, I would revise the requirement that priests have to be celibate.”
Acknowledging the potential controversial nature of his statement, the 64-year-old Archbishop emphasized the need to learn from the Eastern Churches, which allow married men the option to become ordained priests. He argued against losing potentially excellent priests simply because they desire marriage, citing instances where promising individuals chose marriage over priesthood.
The archbishop’s comments were made in response to questions about Catholic priests in Malta who engage in secret relationships and father illegitimate children.
The Archbishop noted that such situations are a global reality and expressed concern that the current requirement forces priests to choose between love and priesthood, leading some to secretly engage in relationships.
The topic of priestly celibacy has gained traction in recent synodal discussions. The 2023 Synod on Synodality assembly at the Vatican addressed the issue, with the synthesis report questioning the necessity of maintaining the discipline in the Latin rite and calling for further discussion in the next assembly in October 2024.
Pope Francis, however, has previously pushed back against changes to Church practices, including optional priestly celibacy, stating that mere ecclesiastical reforms may not address underlying issues.