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Pope Francis open to discussing celibacy rule

Pope Francis is hinting at a willingness to reconsider priestly celibacy.

After a busy trip through the Middle East last week, the pope reportedly took an hour of questions on the flight back to the Vatican. (Via CNN)

On the issue of priestly celibacy, Vatican Insider has him saying, "It is a rule of life that I appreciate a great deal, and I believe it is a gift for the Church. The door is always open given that it is not a dogma of faith."

The practice has been around for about 1,000 years, but Pope Francis' remarks suggest a willingness to change. And that's exactly what a letter sent to the pope last week is asking for.

MarketWatch reports the letter is signed by 26 women who say they are each in love with a priest. Translated, it reads, "Dear Pope Francis, we are writing to you to break down the wall of silence and indifference that we are faced with every day."

NBC reports a change in priestly celibacy might also answer critics who have linked the the sexual abuse of children by priests to the sexual frustration potentially caused by celibacy. 

That was another issue Pope Francis discussed on his flight, saying the church now has a "zero tolerance" policy for any clergy members who sexually abuse children. (Via Time)

The Guardian quotes the pope as saying: "A priest needs to lead children to sanctity, and children trust him. But instead he abuses them, and this is terrible. I compare it to a Satanic mass." And that comparison, according to the site, is key because a satanic mass is the "ultimate evil" for a priest.

Pope Francis is taking an active step on the issue next month, meeting with a group of sexual abuse victims at the Vatican.

As for his meeting with reporters, a writer at The Washington Post  was impressed with the pope's willingness to talk so openly on such controversial issues. (Via Wikimedia Commons / Agência Brasil)

"Both the candor and the impromptu nature with which he responded are likely to expand his growing reputation as the most tolerant, iconoclastic pope of the past 40 years."

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