After a new book coauthored by Benedict XVI and Cardinal Sarah defending clerical celibacy was released, the Vatican said Pope Francis’ position is “known.”
Earlier this week, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and Cardinal Robert Sarah coauthored a new book, in which the two defend clerical celibacy and speak against the ordination of married men.
Following its release, the Holy See Press Office Director Matteo Bruni released a statement “regarding a recent editorial initiative,” referring to the book entitled “From the Depths of Our Hearts.”
Bruni said Pope Francis’s position on priestly celibacy is “known,” referring to a press conference held by the Holy Father in January of last year where he called the vow of celibacy a “gift to the Church” and “not optional.”
“The position of the Holy Father on celibacy is known. In the course of his conversation with journalists on his return from Panama, Pope Francis said: ‘A phrase from Saint Paul VI comes to mind: ‘I prefer to give my life before changing the law of celibacy.'”
In that same press conference, however, Pope Francis also added he would consider ordaining older married men in “very far places” when there is a “pastoral necessity” e.g. the Pacific Islands.
“He added: ‘Personally I think celibacy is a gift for the Church. I don’t agree to allow optional celibacy, no. Only a few possibilities would remain in the most remote locations – I think of the Pacific Islands when there is pastoral need, there, the pastor must think of the faithful.'”
Pope Francis is soon expected to release his post-synodal apostolic exhortation on the Amazon synod, the final document of which calls for ordaining married men and making exceptions for clerical celibacy.
Pope Francis said he would focus on the “diagnoses” of the Synod in “the four dimensions (pastoral, cultural, social and ecological)” rather than focusing on “this or that other intra-ecclesiastical point” when considering the proposal of exceptions to priestly celibacy and ordaining married men.