Catholic priests may be able to marry soon

The Vatican’s attempts to heal the centuries-old rift with the Anglican Church may have a consequence nobody intended: an end to celibacy for priests.

By offering a new Anglican rite under the umbrella of Catholicism, Pope Benedict XVI has invited married Anglican clergy into the fold—and cracked open the possibility of the same for Catholic priests. “The question arises: ‘Well, if these former Anglicans can be married priests, what about us?’” says a cardinal.

Married priests are also permitted in the Orthodox Church, and one of the pope’s central goals has been the reunification of the Catholic and eastern congregations. Yet liberal Catholics are hardly delighted. Marriage aside, the Anglican rite represents another attempt by the pope to bring conservative Christians into the fold. Experts note that the Anglican arrangement was struck by hard-line doctrinal officials rather than the more moderate ecumenical office.

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