Top Austrian clerics call for debate on celibacy

2010-05-12 11:16

Austrian Bishop Paul Iby called for scrapping the marriage ban for

Catholic clergy in an interview published today, adding to the growing number of

top clerics in the country who want to put this tradition up for


The push to tackle the so-called celibacy issue comes as the

Catholic Church is searching for the causes of sexual crimes committed by


“Rome is too timid in such questions,” Iby told the daily Die

Presse. The bishop heads the Church in Burgenland province.

Priests should be allowed to choose whether they would like to

marry or not, he said, in order to attract more men to this profession.

Austria’s highest-ranking cleric, Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn,

said in March that the marriage ban should be examined as one of the possible

roots of the sex scandals, along with the way priests are trained, and with the

impact of the sexual revolution of the late 1960s.

Besides Iby, two other bishops have also called for reviewing

celibacy, expressing views that pit Austria’s relatively liberal Church against

the more conservative Vatican.

Iby also said discussions should be started in the medium term on

allowing women to become priests, as well as on changing the Church’s stance

towards homosexuality and divorce.

“But nothing is moving ahead in Rome,” he said.

Earlier this year, the 75-year-old cleric had asked the Vatican to

let him retire.

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