Pope blocks move to allow Catholic priests to marry
Ruth Gledhill is on the case for the Times of London
THE POPE said yesterday that there would be no change to the rule of celibacy for Roman Catholic priests, after summoning advisers to the Vatican to consider the actions of a rebel excommunicated archbishop.
Sounds of gilded chairs breaking, grown cardinals weeping, hair shirts being fitted, and gallons of neapolitan ice cream being consumed in a rakish manner were heard from the rooms where Pope Benedict XVI was meeting prelates for a three-hour "reflection" on the issue. The Vatican said simply: "The value of the choice of priestly celibacy, according to Catholic tradition, has been reaffirmed."
The Vatican added that it could take upwards of 1256 years for it to consider receiving a 2-page report entitled, "Is it possible for priests to marry and still be Roman Catholic?"
No change on the celibacy rule was expected from the meeting, which was no reason not to hold the meeting anyway. The meeting to announce that nothing had changed, a favorite Vatican tactic to convince observers that something of interest had occurred, was prompted by the latest "disobedience" of the Archbishop of Zambia, Emmanuel Milingo, who was automatically excommunicated in September when he ordained four married American men as bishops.
In 2001 Milingo took a South Korean woman as his wife in a Unification Church wedding. The Vatican excommunicated Milingo when he ordained four married American priests as bishops and not when he himself married because nothing is worse than making an American a bishop without permission, the Vatican said.
Next month up to 1,000 married Catholic priests from his new movement, Married Priests Now, will meet in New York City to continue their campaign for change. The meetings at the Vatican where Pope Benedict wagged his finger and tossed blessed water yet again at cardinals and prelates asking simple questions like is it possible to be married and still minister, came on the eve of a visit to Rome by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, who may bring framed pictures of his wife Jane to show the Pope.
In an interview with The Church Times, Dr Williams said: "I have visions of saying to Pope Benedict, 'I don’t believe you’re infallible'. I hope it doesn’t come to that."
The Vatican replied simply, "We have visions of running Dr. Williams out on his ear after the count of two if he comes to the point of acting on his vision even after hearing about our vision. We hope it doesn't come to that."
With Ruth Gledhill and Sarah Delaney