The German branch of Vatican Radio just reported that Pope Francis has made an unusual visit today. According to today’s Radio Vatikan article, Pope Francis went privately this Friday afternoon to Ponte di Nona on the outskirts of Rome in order to meet with seven families together in a private apartment. All fathers of these families are former priests “who hung up their priesthood and married,” in the strange words of the official radio of the Vatican. The article continues, as follows:
With this visit, the pope wanted to show his closeness and affection for these young men whose decision to give up their priesthood has often been adversely received by their confreres and by their own families. Four of the young family fathers stem from the Diocese of Rome, one from Madrid and one from Latin America (both of them are now living in Rome) and the last of them comes from Sicily.
The official Vatican statement, according to Radio Vatikan, explains with much empathy the awkward situation of these men when it indulgently says:
“After a few years of priestly service in the parishes,” according to the Vatican statement, “it happened that the isolation, the lack of understanding, as well as the exhaustion because of the immense work and the pastoral responsibility, brought into crisis the original decision to become a priest. There followed months and years of insecurity and of doubt which often led to the conviction that the priesthood had been the wrong decision.”
This surprising new initiative now coming from the pope will again confirm the suspicions of some Catholics that Pope Francis indeed intends to slacken the priestly celibacy as a requirement for the priesthood in the Latin rite. However, some have recently argued that this topic is not any more on the table inasmuch as the next Synod of Bishops will be about the Youth. Edward Pentin, the well-informed Vatican expert, had recently reported the following:
News of the decision comes after speculation that the next synod would be about priestly celibacy and a possible push to allow married priests, something Pope Francis is known to be keen to examine. That proposal was understood to have been voted down by the majority of members on the XIV Ordinary Council of the Synod of Bishops, the body charged with drawing up the theme of the next synod.
We at OnePeterFive remain respectfully suspicious of Pope Francis’ actual (though veiled) intentions, since we already saw – with regard to the question of the “remarried” divorcees and their possible access to the Sacraments – that the current pontiff tends to ignore or bypass and offset the orthodox decisions made by other influential prelates in the Catholic Church.
Is this recent surprise visit a sign of the pope’s future plans with regard to priestly celibacy?
Dr. Maike Hickson, born and raised in Germany, studied History and French Literature at the University of Hannover and lived for several years in Switzerland where she wrote her doctoral dissertation. She is married to Dr. Robert Hickson, and they have been blessed with two beautiful children. She is a happy housewife who likes to write articles when time permits.
Her articles have appeared in American and European journals such as Catholicism.org, LifeSiteNews, The Wanderer, Culture Wars, Catholic Family News, Christian Order, Apropos, and Zeit-Fragen.