Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge has predicted the Plenary Council 2020, the first to be held in Australia since 1937, will spark cultural and structural changes in the Church. Source: The Courier Mail.
He said those changes are crucial for renewal, following the sexual abuse scandal that has rocked the Church globally since the 1980s.
Archbishop Coleridge told The Courier Mail the Plenary Council may throw open to debate the idea of allowing Catholic priests to marry.
“I would not exclude that,” he said of the debate on the celibacy of priests.
“(A celibacy debate) is certainly possible – the ordination of tried and true married men, for instance.”
A Plenary Council is only second in importance to an Ecumenical Council, the last of which was the Second Ecumenical Council of the Vatican, which was opened by Pope John XXIII in 1962 and closed by Pope Paul VI in 1965.
Archbishop Coleridge, who is president of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, has played a leading role in the establishment of the Plenary Council, which will begin in Adelaide in October 2020.
He said he is open to a debate on priestly celibacy, 450 years after the Council of Trent last reaffirmed Church support of it in northern Italy between 1543 and 1563.
But Archbishop Coleridge stressed the Council’s agenda is not a matter for him to determine, and any lift on the ban on priests marrying would ultimately be the decision of Pope Francis.
Already in Australia there are a handful of former Anglican priests who have converted to Catholicism and serve as Catholic priests, while still remaining married.
Archbishop Coleridge, while supportive of the Plenary Council overseeing a root-and-branch review of the Church including matters related to governance and transparency, said he steadfastly refused to compromise on the seal of the confessional.
“We don’t wish in any way to be arrogant – God knows we are in no position to be arrogant – but we have a fundamental tenet of the faith at stake here,” he said. “We will have to hold our ground.”
Archbishop Coleridge open to priests wearing wedding rings with dog collars (The Courier Mail)