Catholic Church: celibacy will not be relaxed

Pope Francis has disappointed Church reformers by upholding the rule of strict celibacy for priests. In the letter "Querida Amazonia" released on Wednesday Francis did not take up the recommendation of October's Amazon Synod to allow married men to serve as priests in exceptional cases. The European press comments on the dispute within the Church.

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Der Standard (AT) /

Reputation as an innovator ruined

Easing the celibacy rule would have been a great opportunity for the Church and its pope, Der Standard complains:

“By refusing to gently cool down the eternally hot iron, Pope Francis has lost his reputation as a great innovator. This would have been a unique opportunity to put a historical stamp on this pontificate. Pope Francis would have had the chance to prove that he really is reforming the Church. To show that he stands behind a Church whose roots lie in the parishes. Whose tree of life thrives at its base. ... In the end, this is probably mainly about power and preserving hierarchical structures. Today the objective is not to bind clergymen to life, but rather to chain them to the Holy See.”

La Croix (FR) /

Francis counting on vitality of secular society

The pope's decision fits in with his strategy of strengthening the role of lay people rather than lowering the obstacles to priesthood, La Croix writes approvingly:

“Now it's easier to understand why the Pope did not support the idea of viri probati - or consecrating married men of proven virtue. In his view it risks clericalising lay people, which in his view could endanger the vitality of Amazonian Catholic communities in the long term and mean a loss not only for this region, but for the Church as a whole. For Francis, the Church needs diversity to stimulate its powers of imagination and revive its missionary vitality. Like Earth, the Church needs a green lung to breathe and live: and it is located in the Amazon. ”

Jutarnji list (HR) /

News coverage too focused on celibacy

The media are more interested in the controversial topic than in the situation in the Amazon region, Jutarnji complains:

“Celibacy was the main message on all the sites on Wednesday, even though the Pope had not explicitly mentioned it. Meanwhile, hardly any headlines were devoted to the indigenous peoples of Amazonia; the 'Indios', whose lives are threatened physically - and spiritually if they are Christians. Physically, Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro wants to expel them so large landowners can continue to cut down the rainforest and clear the land. Spiritually, there will be no one to comfort them if the Catholic priest only visits the congregation once a year. But who cares about the 'Indios' or the 'lung of the earth' in the Amazon if you can focus on other people's genitals? And make money in the process? ”