CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) - One of the world's top Catholic educators says it's "healthy for the Church" that Pope Francis is allowing open discussion of a previously taboo topic: whether priests should be permitted to marry.
FOX 32’s Political Editor Mike Flannery had his own open discussion on the topic with Father Michael Garanzini who is chancellor of Loyola University and Secretary of Higher Education for the Jesuit order.
Father Garanzini met informally with Pope Francis in Rome recently. While the topic of married priests did not come up, two British bishops are pushing the Pope to consider it.
“Well, I think we're going to see the discussion sooner than later. And the discussion will be healthy. I think we need to talk about this, because Roman Catholics want their sacraments. And, in many places, we're very stretched on providing priests for the sacraments,” Garanzini said.
FOX 32: We don't have priests in many places.
“That's right. So, I think we won't necessarily start the conversation in the United States. But I think it's going to be started,” Garanzini said.
One opinion survey that asked church-going Catholics about ending the celibacy requirement for priests found big differences based on where they lived. Allowing priests to marry was favored by a majority of Catholics in Germany, France and North America. But Catholics in Poland, southern Europe and Brazil were opposed.
Father Garanzini said the Pope, born in Argentina to Italian immigrant parents, knows how deeply divisive the debate over married priests might become.
Father Garanzini said that Pope Francis has helped the church in America, simply by focusing on big issues that matter to everyone, from the environment to poverty.
“One of the ways he's helped the American church is he's taken the spotlight off of the priests' sex abuse problem. And he's put it on Gospel issues. How do we treat the poor? Whether we're worried about each other and how we're getting along,” Garanzini said.
While the Pope's in America, Father Garanzini said he has to be in Rome on Church business.