Catholic priests' celibacy
The Brazilian cardinal, Claudio Hummes, has said the Catholic Church might have to think again in the future about the issue of celibacy. His statement comes 2 weeks after the Vatican again confirmed that it will not allow priests to marry.
The BBC's Christian Fraser reports from Rome:
The number of men joining the priesthood has been falling steadily for years. The question many in the church are asking is whether the demand the Vatican makes on its priests, to be chaste and celibate, is forcing young men to ignore the calling.
Cardinal Hummes, who takes over the congregation for the clergy this month - and he must try in his new role to re-energise the seminary - believes there is a debate to be had. Celibacy is a discipline, he said; it's not a dogma of the church. Certainly the majority of the apostles were married and in this modern age the church must observe these things; it has to advance with history.
The seventy-two year old cardinal is viewed by some as a potential successor to Pope Benedict. His comments will be taken seriously. But two weeks ago, senior figures in the Vatican met for three hours to discuss this issue and they reaffirmed the need for solid Christian and human training.
In the Middle Ages there was no formal ban on marriage for the clergy. In fact in the early Christian Church many priests, and at least one pope, Hadrian II, had wives.
Christian Fraser, BBC News, Rome
ha estado cayendo a un ritmo constante
chaste and celibate
casto, puro, y célibe
the congregation for the clergy
la congregación para el clero
re-energise the seminary
revitalizar el seminario
los apóstoles, los discípulos de Cristo
a potential successor
un posible sucesor
the Middle Ages
la Edad Media