Priests Should Marry

Catholic Priests.(Photo: Catholic Church England and Wales / Flickr)Archbishop Pietro Parolin, seen by most as the second most powerful man in the Vatican behind the Pope, opened the door yesterday in a newspaper interview to the possibility of priests getting married.

He said, “Celibacy is not an institution but look, it is also true that you can discuss (it) because, as you say this is not a dogma, a dogma of the church.”

In other words, priests being single and celibate is not a dogma – an absolute, unbreakable, God-given rule – but, rather, simply a policy of the Catholic Church.

And policies can be changed.

The Catholic Church allowing priests to marry could be a huge step toward a number of positive worldwide revolutions.

Science tells us that the single most significant difference between a country where population is running out of control, versus one where population is stable, is the empowerment of women.

We also know that societies where women have significant political power are less likely to engage in warfare or to have huge imbalances in wealth between the top and the bottom; and more likely to have strong social safety nets, a better quality of life, and less illiteracy and poverty.

It would not be an exaggeration to say that the empowerment of girls and women, through education and political power, is the single most important thing that can be done to save the world.

Global warming, famine, war – all are remedied in large part by the empowerment of women.

The Catholic Church’s role in this is important.

It’s the single largest religious institution in the world. With over a billion members, the Catholic Church and its leader, the Pope, wield enormous political and moral authority. The Vatican is recognized as a nation by the United Nations.

Up until now, this largest religious institution in the world, this nation-state, has been organized along entirely patriarchal and male-dominated lines.

To become fully modern, it would have to allow women priests and even a woman Pope, which is unlikely in the near future.

But allowing priests to marry, to bring a woman into a co-equal relationship with priests in their household, is a powerful and important first step in breaking down the absolute male domination of the Catholic Church.

In our lifetime, we have seen this happen in several Protestant denominations. It has been an important step toward a better and more egalitarian world.

If the Catholic Church were to take this step – this first, small step of allowing its priests to marry – it would be a huge step toward saving the world from the toxic consequences of millennia of male domination.

Pope Francis has surprised the world in so many ways.

This week we learned that he was given a 30-year-old used small car by another priest because he likes to drive himself around.

He loves to be with the people, and often sneaks out to do so, driving his security detail crazy.

He has called out the rich of the world for their role in spoiling our planet and exploiting their workers.

He has called for stronger national social safety nets to raise up the world’s poor.

He has spoken out strongly against war, including against America involving itself in the Civil War in Syria.

He’s even said he would not “judge” gay priests.

If he were to begin a conversation in the Vatican about allowing priests to get married, it could, quite literally, change the world.