Europe pushes back against the pope

Many want priests to marry and women to be ordained
Jane Switzer
Pope pushback
Timm Schamberger/AFP/Getty Images

Irish Catholics may embrace the idea of a more progressive church, but Pope Benedict isn’t willing to budge. Almost nine in 10 believers, 87 per cent, think priests should be allowed to marry, according to a new survey by Ireland’s Association of Catholic Priests, and 77 per cent say women should be ordained. The survey results came on the heels of a rare rebuke by the pontiff of priests who question the church’s hard-line stance.

Earlier this month, Benedict denounced the “call to disobedience” by a dissident group of Austrian priests known as the Pfarrer Initiative. The group, led by the Reverend Helmut Schüller, advocates for the abolition of priestly celibacy and the ordination of women. Speaking from the altar at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, the Pope asked rhetorically, “Is disobedience a path of renewal for the church?” Apparently it depends on whom you ask. The Catholic Church “has changed time and again over the centuries,” says Rev. Schüller. “It is our hope that that can happen again.”