Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has issued a passionate defense of clerical celibacy, as Pope Francis is considering an exception that would allow some married men to serve as priests.
Benedict made the comments in a book that he co-authored with Cardinal Robert Sarah.
“The ability to renounce marriage in order to place oneself fully at the disposal of the Lord has become a criterion for priestly ministry,” Benedict XVI writes.
He also wrote that he believes celibacy carries “great significance” and is “truly essential” as a priest’s path to God becomes the foundation of his life.
“The call to follow Jesus is not possible without this sign of freedom and of renunciation of all commitments.
Celibacy must penetrate, with its requirements, all of the attitudes of existence,” he wrote. .
Though Pope Francis has also defended celibacy — calling it a “gift” to the church and saying it should not be optional — some of the Argentine pontiff’s allies have pushed for exceptions, saying the priesthood needs to modernize and find ways to make up for a severe shortage of vocations.