According to the Northern Cross, the independent newspaper for the Catholic Diocese of Hexham & Newcastle, Bishop Seamus Cunningham of Hexham and Newcastle proposed a motion on behalf of the Council of Priests in his diocese.
During their plenary meeting last month, the Bishops rejected a proposal to ordain married men as priests.The proposal was rejected after a “thoughtful discussion”, the bishop told the paper.
“Arguments have been put forward that with the declining number of priests, ordaining married men who are proven in their Christian life, would allow the faithful not to be starved from the sacrament, especially the Eucharist,” he said.
Bishop Cunningham said that many bishops noted that the tradition of the Church for more than 1,000 years was that the priesthood and celibacy, were a sign and symbol of an interior dedication to Christ and his kingdom and were intimately linked.
He added: “Any separation of them as a norm of the Church would change the nature of how we see the priesthood.”
As Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Pope Francis, then Cardinal Bergoglio, in a book ON HEAVEN AND EARTH, which recorded his conversations with a rabbi said, celibacy “is a matter of discipline, not of faith. It can change.” He further noted that this discussion is often brought about by “pragmatism”, based on the loss of manpower and perhaps cultural reasons. The Catholic Church forbids no one to marry. No one is required to take a vow of celibacy; those who do, do so voluntarily. They “renounce marriage” (Matt. 19:12); no one forbids it to them. The Church simply elects candidates for the priesthood (or, in the Eastern rites, for the episcopacy) from among those who voluntarily renounce marriage.
Bishop Cunningham went on to say that “acknowledgement was made of those married priests who serve in our parishes at the moment” especially former Anglicans and members of the Ordinariate.
He said: “At the heart of the priesthood is sacrifice; the sacrifice of the Mass where Christ gives himself for the salvation of the world, and the sacrifice of the priest who offers his life for his people.
The Bishops maintained the traditional teaching of the Church for a celibate priesthood following the conditions surrounding discussion.