Slovakian Priest Challenges Church’s Stance on Celibacy

Reverend Michal Lajcha— a Catholic priest in Slovakia, where 62 percent of the population is Roman Catholic—has written a book challenging the church’s rules on clerical celibacy, in which he asserts that changing the mandatory nature of this requirement to a voluntary one and allowing married men to become priests could help prevent sex scandals in the future. The book—The Tragedy of Celibacy: The Death of the Wife—was written in versions for both theologians and the laity, and argues that the hierarchy cannot understand the lives and concerns of the Catholic faithful because they do not share the same lived experience: “there’s a huge abyss between the clergy and the laypeople,” writes Rev. Lajcha. Pope Francis has made the point in the past that clerical celibacy is a result of tradition rather than doctrine, and has expressed some degree of openness to ordaining married men in light of a global shortage of priests. The pope has called for a summit of bishops in the Pan-Amazon region next year, and Italian Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, when asked about the possibility of a decision at this meeting to offer official ministry to women and married men, stated that “we don’t want to preclude anything.”

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