Should Catholic priests be allowed to get married? That's the question many are asking in light of recent comments by one of the Vatican's top officials.
First, however, consider this: While he was serving as Archbishop Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, Pope Francis seemed against the idea.
"For the moment, I am in favor of maintaining celibacy, with all its pros and cons ... It is a matter of discipline, not of faith. It can change," he said. "Personally, it never crossed my mind to marry."
Those comments might have you thinking that the new Pope had no plans to change the rules on marriage for priests. However, based on comments from high-ranking Catholic officials, there may soon be a tectonic shift on the subject of marriage for priests. According to the Pope's #2 guy, Archbishop Pietro Parolin, it's up for discussion. Parolin has also just been named the Vatican's Secretary of State.
Speaking to Venezuela's El Universal newspaper, Parolin said recently, "It's not a dogma of the Church and it can be discussed because it's an ecclesiastical tradition."
The issue of celibacy for Catholic priests goes back centuries. According to Catholic University's website, celibacy for "Bishops, presbyters, deacons and others with a position in the ministry" was initially mandated by Canon 33 in the Council of Elvira from the year 306.
Celibacy was confirmed again at the Council of Trent in the middle of the 16th century. The Church held 25 sessions during the 18 years of the Ecumenical Council that lasted from 1545 to 1563. In the 24th session, decrees on marriage and celibacy of priests were issued.
There are currently exceptions to the ban on priests being married. For example, if a man is already married and then comes to the Church to be ordained, the Vatican may allow the marriage to stand.
NBC Nightly News covered the story as well. Watch the report from Chris Jansing:
So now we pose the question to you: