VATICAN CITY (CNA)—A Vatican spokesman said that Pope Francis’ position on priestly celibacy is “known,” quoting the pontiff’s remarks in a January 2019 press conference, in which he said he does not agree with making priestly celibacy “optional” in the Latin rite.
The statement by Holy See Press Office Director Matteo Bruni was issued January 13 and was said to be in response to questions from journalists “regarding a recent editorial initiative.”
The initiative referred to is a new book on priestly celibacy and the crisis in the Church and priesthood, co-authored by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and Cardinal Robert Sarah, who is head of the pope’s liturgical office.
In his statement, Bruni quoted Pope Francis’ comments aboard the papal plane to Rome from Panama January 28, 2019, in which he said, “personally, I think that celibacy is a gift to the Church. I would say that I do not agree with allowing optional celibacy, no.”
The pope added at the time that he thinks there is room to consider some exceptions for married clergy in the Latin rite “when there is a pastoral necessity” in remote locations due to lack of priests, such as in the Pacific islands.
Bruni’s statement also noted Francis’ quotation of the words of St. Pope Paul VI: “I prefer to give my life before changing the law of celibacy.”
The book by Pope Benedict and Cardinal Sarah, called “From the Depths of Our Hearts,” is published in English by Ignatius Press.