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WATCH — SA Bishop on possibility for married clergy

A retired South African bishop, Fritz Lobinger, was mentioned by Pope Francis during his in-flight press conference returning from World Youth Day festivities in Central America. Ricardo da Silva SJ, caught up with Lobinger at his home in Mariannhill to speak to him about the Pope’s remarks on the possibility for married clergy in the Roman Catholic Church.

On the return flight from World Youth Day in Panama in his usual mid-air press conference, Pope Francis was questioned on the status of celibacy for priests of the Roman Catholic rite.

The Pope was emphatic in response to journalist Caroline Pigozzi, saying “celibacy is a gift” and that “I [Pope Francis] do not agree with permitting optional celibacy, no.” However, he stated that this was his personal stance. And, that the church had some possibilities for priestly ministry in “very far places” and that this is “something to study, rethink and pray about”.

But, the Pope carefully qualified his comment on the possibility for viri probati (married clergy) . He cited a thesis by a South African bishop investigating the possibility where “you can ordain an older married man […] that celebrate[s] the Mass, that administer[s] the sacrament of reconciliation and of unction.”

WATCH OUR EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW with Fritz Lobinger, bishop emeritus of Aliwal North

* The opinions expressed here by Spotlight.Africa contributors and editors are their own and not official statements of the Society of Jesus in South Africa or of the Catholic Church unless explicitly stated.

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