German cardinal wants to abolish celibacy for clergy


Central Europe


Cardinal Reinhard Marx. Photo EPA, Philipp Guelland

The Archbishop of Munich, Reinhard Marx, argues for the abolition of mandatory celibacy in the Roman Catholic Church. “For some priests, it would be better if they were married”, Marx said.

Marx (66) does not plead for the total abolition of a celibate life. However, he questions the statement that “one should take that as a basic requirement for every priest.” In Marx’s opinion, marriage would be better for some priests, not only for sexual reasons but also against loneliness”, Spiegel reports.

Reinhard Marx is a prominent Roman Catholic leader. Pope Franciscus granted him a position in his advisory council, among others. From 2014 till 2020, Marx was also president of the German Bishops’ Conference.

It is the first time Marx speaks out in favour of married priests so clearly. According to BR24, the Cardinal said in 2019 that he was only open to regional exemptions of celibacy in the case of shortages of priests.

When asked whether Marx saw a connection between celibacy and the cases of sexual abuse discovered recently, he replied that he could not make a general statement like that. However, he did say that “this way of life and male society also attract sexually immature people. And sexuality is part of being human.” In addition, he argued that battling abuse in the church should not be seen separately from other reforms, such as celibacy. In 2018, a study by the German Bishops’ Conference pointed out that compulsory celibacy forms a risk factor for abuse.

Pro writes that the Cardinal was reluctant in answering the question of whether women should be allowed to become priests. He said that he was not entirely against women in office but that an extensive consensus is necessary on the issue.

Earlier, Archbishop Heiner Koch of Berlin also pleaded for the abolishment of celibacy in the Roman Catholic Church Der Tagesspiegel writes. Koch is also in favour of opening up the diaconate for women.

There are also voices that plead for further reforms in the church concerning gender. For example, Archbishop Ludwig Schick from Bamberg told the Catholic News Agency that if queer church employees came out, they would not have to fear dismissal.



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