At a time when more people are defending the discipline, someone close to the pope is suggesting the vow of celibacy might be changed:

The vow of celibacy by the clergy may be open to review, the Vatican’s second highest ranking official has said.

“It is not that it is untouchable,” Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone was quoted as saying by Spain’s Catalan public television on Tuesday.

“There are married priests in the Catholic as well as oriental church,” Bertone said.

But clerical celibacy is a “positive and fruitful tradition”, the top Vatican official said adding, “It is the non-respect of celibacy that brings with it serious risks and that then has very painful consequences”.

Bertone, however, said there was no link between celibacy and the sexual abuse incidents the Catholic Church has been besieged with.

“There is no direct link between celibacy and the deviant behaviour of certain priests,” he said. “On the contrary, it is precisely the failure to remain celibate that gradually degrades the life of a priest, until he ceases to be an example, a gift, a spiritual guide for others.”

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