I suppose this will show my ignorance. I thought the discipline of clerical celibacy in the Roman Catholic Church was just that – a discipline and not a doctrine, albeit a discipline with deep roots in the earliest centuries of the Church. It is clear that married men may be ordained priests – think of the recent exceptions permitting this for clergymen coming into the RC communion from the Lutheran or Anglican traditions.
But look at this. The Vatican Information Service issued a statement on January 15 saying that married men may not be ordained as bishops “for doctrinal reasons.” Can anyone out there clarify this for me? What does history have to teach us? Is it clear that the issue is doctrinal and not merely disciplinary?
Here is the significant excerpt from the Vatican’s statement, emphasis mine:
For doctrinal reasons the Church does not, in any circumstances, allow the ordination of married men as bishops. However, the Apostolic Constitution does provide, under certain conditions, for the ordination as Catholic priests of former Anglican married clergy.