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Pell says he can't envisage priests marrying

Sydney's Cardinal George Pell has told the Sydney Morning Herald that he "could never see a day when Rome would permit priests to marry", adding that it is only slightly more realistic to think that the Church might admit already married men to the priesthood.

Cardinal Pell made it clear to the Herald that he supports neither option.

Declaring that admitting married men to the priesthood is "the only theoretical possibility", he said "I hope it isn't a realistic possibility at all".

"If we did that it would weaken the church enormously," he explained. "You've got to invest a lot of time and energy into making a marriage work and so therefore you are so much less free, at least theoretically, to do the church's work."

"I think our strengths have been brought about and maintained by the faithful sacrifice of celibate priests, brothers and nuns."

The National Council of Priests made a submission to the Vatican late last year, ahead of October's Synod of Bishops, floating the idea of admitting married men to the priesthood, and readmitting priests who have left the priesthood to marry.

The Herald says the Council is preparing a follow-up discussion paper opening debate about the Catholic tradition of the Eucharist, of which the shortage of priests is one aspect, to all parts of the church.

"The availability of an ordained priest is just one important and essential element of that discussion," Council president Fr Hal Ranger said yesterday.

Parramatta's Bishop Kevin Manning has also weighed in on the debate, criticising the secular media for its "slanted advice", and questioning whether a global shortage of priests exists at all.

Church wedded to single priests (Sydney Morning Herald 4/3/05)

National Council of Priests
Bush bishop backs priestly celibacy debate (CathNews 31/1/05)
Alternative priests' council hits back on mandatory celibacy (CathNews 28/1/05)
Council of Priests argues for married clergy (CathNews 27/1/05)
Bishops' Secretary confirms priests' survey on celibacy (CathNews 31/10/04)
US priests urge optional celibacy (CathNews 21/8/03)

Bishop calls priest crisis a media beat-up (CathNews 3/3/05)

4 Mar 2005