I see these little statements emerging periodically from the Vatican as paving the way for a change in the policy of mandatory celibacy. The latest comes from no less than the Secretary of State for the Vatican, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, who is probably anxious for some good press after his assertion earlier this month in Chile that the pedophilia crisis was related to homosexuality -- a position that was roundly denounced, and not just by homosexual rights groups. In an interview Monday with Catalan public television (TV3), Bertone asserted that while it has been "a positive and productive tradition", celibacy "is not untouchable", noting the existence of married priests in both Eastern and, more recently, Latin rite Catholic churches.
And, coming from the same part of the world, a group of priests from Solsona and Lleida (Spain) who meet as part of the Forum Ondara raised the issue at their April 6th meeting. The group calls for the immediate abolition of obligatory celibacy, noting that while its connection to pedophilia is not conclusive, it has already caused the loss of many good chaplains who could not comply with it as well as discouraging young men from entering the priesthood in the first place. The group argues that Jesus never mandated celibacy and that even though St. Paul encouraged it, it was optional.
In a discussion on Facebook I recently opined that we were one papacy away from married priests and maybe not even that. Several people criticized this assertion but every time things like this come out of the Vatican, I can smell the winds of change.