German bishop speaks as debate on celibacy rules thickens - Starconnect Media
Admin l Saturday, March 18, 2023 German Bishop Stefan Oster of Passau has joined calls for an open discussion on the issue of celibacy for priests in the Catholic Church, following comments by Pope Francis that celibacies for priests could be revised. Oster said that if there are too many people who fail to live successfully and fulfilled, the issue should be discussed. He also noted that there are married priests in Eastern Churches linked to Rome and Protestant pastors “who became Catholic and then were ordained priests with us.” and that they remain married, of course. The issue of whether women can be ordained as deacons is for Rome to decide.
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BERLIN – Following comments by Pope Francis that celibacy for priests could be revised, a senior German cleric has joined calls for an open discussion on the issue in the Catholic Church.
“[Celibacy] is Jesus’ way of life,” Bishop Stefan Oster of Passau said in an interview published on Saturday after he abstained from a vote on relaxing celibacy at the synodal assembly in Frankfurt.
“But if there are too many in our society who fail at it and the examples of those who can live it successfully and fulfilled are fewer, then we have to think,” Oster told the Passauer Neue Presse newspaper.
Earlier in March, the pope told Argentinian media that celibacy in the Western Church was a “temporary prescription,” not “eternal like priestly ordination,” and could conceivably be revised.
Oster’s comments reflected calls elsewhere for a more modern approach to the celibacy rule.
If in the past a pastor typically “lived in a community that shared and supported his way of life,” he was today also potentially exposed to “internet temptations” in communities that accepted all lifestyles, while regarding the pastor’s own as “odd.”
In an echo of the pope’s recent comments, Oster said celibacy is not part of the bedrock of priestly ordination. He noted that there are married priests in the Eastern Churches linked to Rome and also Protestant pastors “who became Catholic and then were ordained priests with us. They remain married, of course,” he said.
He was referring to a recent meeting of the Synodal Assembly in Germany, a group made up of archbishops, bishops and auxiliary bishops, as well as lay-members from the Central Committee of German Catholics.
They discuss a range of contemporary theological and organizational questions concerning the Catholic Church, as well as possible reactions to the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church in Germany.
At a meeting earlier this month, the Synodal Assembly discussed a range of measures and called for change in several areas, including blessings for homosexual couples, though some feared the calls could lead to a schism within the church.
Whether women can be ordained as deacons is for Rome to decide, Oster said.