The Catholic Church has mandated celibacy for its Catholic priests since the Middle Ages and has twice affirmed the move in 1139 AD and reconfirmed in 1563 AD. Another stunning move by Pope Francis may signal that the requirement for celibacy could be changing.
Although not revoking the ban but making an exception, Pope Francis waived the celibacy standard for the first time in America since 1922 by allowing a married Catholic Deacon Wissam Akiki of St. Louis, who also has a daughter, to be ordained this week in a Maronite Church. This sect of Catholicism has its ties to the Eastern Catholic Church which originated around the fifth century in what is now called Lebanon.
Being married in the Maronite Church is common overseas, however Pontiff Francis’ move to ordain Deacon Akiki would be the first married leader in the United States since 1922. The only exceptions for a Catholic priest to be married is either being already ordained in the Eastern Catholic Church or being married already as a Episcopalian or Lutheran priest before converting to Catholicism.
Being a celibate leader of the Catholic Church in America had little to do with spirituality and more about combating the nepotism of married priests who would place their sons in high positions in the church and tried to establish a name legacy of their family. Disqualifying priests for being married put to an end the practice of preferred treatment for the sons of the Catholic priests.
Although traditional, there is really no Biblical standard that forbids the priest from being married and having a family. There are many traditions of men that have been instituted into the various Christian denominations that are not mandated by the Bible. Although a stanch conservative, Pope Francis it not locked into tradition if a move to update the Catholic Church in necessary.
One positive way to combat the controversy of sexual problems plaguing the church would be to allow a more healthy outlet for sexual expression and a better family model that would allow the priest to better relate to the robust Catholic families. It would be a courageous move by Pope Francis should he channel the Catholic Church in that direction.
Allowing priests who are gay into the leadership has really been permissible for centuries as long as the gay priest took a vow of celibacy as the priests with heterosexual orientation. It was only until recently that gays in the priesthood has become a political issue, but not to the Catholic Church.
Pope Francis could well allow women into the priesthood as church leaders since there really is no Biblical restriction. In the Book of Judges of the Bible in the Old Testament, Deborah was the chief prophet and judge of Israel in which God would speak through. God had no problem making a female the spiritual leader of Israel.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deborah
Galatians designates no distinction between Jew or Gentile, free or bondsman, and male or female regarding being in Christ Jesus.
While the Pontiff may relax Catholic standards on allowing priest to marry and women to come into the ministry, the chances are nil that the Catholic tradition will ever change its views on abortion and certain contraceptive procedures. Some updates will be beneficial as mentioned, but others are in direct conflict with the traditional Catholic positions that are based on Biblical doctrine.
Allowing priest to marry and women into the ministry will clearly be a step forward while making other questionable compromises to Christian doctrines will be a step backward.