News24

Call for married priests

2010-05-12 16:41

Vienna - An Austrian Catholic bishop said on Wednesday priests should be allowed to marry and the church should re-think ordaining women in the wake of the widespread paedophile scandal.

"It should be left up to every priest whether he wants to live a life of voluntary celibacy or in a family," the bishop of Eisenstadt, Paul Iby, told the daily Die Presse.

"I would greatly welcome it if we were to allow 'Viri probati'," or the ordination of married men, Iby said.

"If I look at how many married deacons I have. These are all tried and tested men. If they could be ordained as priests, we'd have a much easier time of it in pastoral care in view of the current shortage of priests," he said.

Iby, 75, has been bishop in Eisenstadt in the province of Burgenland since 1992 and is seen as belonging to the relatively more progressive wing within the Catholic Church.

On the subject of women priests, Iby said that "the ordination of women in our church is currently not an issue. But in the medium term, it should be re-thought."

While the Vatican sees its rule of priest celibacy as taboo, a number of leading clergymen and theologians have started to call for a re-examination of the issue in the light of the wave of sexual abuse cases that have come to light in the Roman Catholic Church recently.