Priests commonly had families in the first millennium of Christianity, as did some popes. But in modern times, celibacy has been affirmed again and again as a tenet of the religion, with Pope Paul VI in 1967 calling it a “golden law” that helped uphold priests in their worship of God.
When Francis has spoken about celibacy, though he signaled an openness to narrow exceptions, he has made clear that he does not favor major changes, calling the practice “a gift to the church.”
“I would say that I do not agree with permitting optional celibacy,” the pope said one year ago during a news conference
Some theologians and church pundits have argued that celibacy has contributed to the clerical abuse crisis, by promoting a culture in which sexuality, of all kinds, is plunged beneath the surface..