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Cardinal Reinhard MarxPopow/ullstein bild via Getty Images

MUNICH, Germany (LifeSiteNews) — A senior German cardinal called for the priestly vow of celibacy to no longer be required in the Catholic Church and for clerics to be given the choice to marry.

Cardinal Reinhard Marx, who is Archbishop of Munich and Freising, told Sueddeutsche Zeitung on Thursday that “it would be better for everyone to create the possibility of celibate and married priests.”

“For some priests, it would be better if they were married — not just for sexual reasons, but because it would be better for their life and they wouldn’t be lonely,” he claimed. “We must hold this discussion.”

Marx told the newspaper that there was a “question mark” over whether celibacy “should be taken as a basic precondition for every priest.”

The comments, which contradict long-standing ecclesial recognition of the spiritual value of celibacy, were made ahead of the German bishops’ “Synodal Path” meeting with laity today and follow a recent German Bishops’ Conference announcement of its support for the #OutinChurch LGBT campaign, which saw 125 Catholic Church employees, including clergy, come out as homosexual.

Last week, Marx expressed his support for ordaining homosexual men to the priesthood, telling a press conference about sexual abuse in his diocese that synodality was “the basic requirement for a new church” and that homosexuality should not be a restriction on the “ability of becoming a priest.”

“How do we deal with the homosexuality of priests?” he asked. “Not everyone is forced to declare [to others] their own sexual inclination, whether he is heterosexual or homosexual. He must decide that [whether to declare it] for himself.”

“But if he does [declare it], then that is to be respected and then this is not a restriction on his ability of becoming a priest,” Marx continued. “That is my position and we have to stand up for it.”

Cardinal Marx’s call for the ordination of homosexual men contradicts repeated statements from the Vatican banning people from seminary and Holy Orders who “practice homosexuality, present deep-seated homosexual tendencies or support the so-called ‘gay culture.’”

A 2005 instruction from the Congregation for Catholic Education states that “if a candidate practices homosexuality or presents deep-seated homosexual tendencies, his spiritual director as well as his confessor have the duty to dissuade him in conscience from proceeding towards ordination,” and that it “would be gravely dishonest for a candidate to hide his own homosexuality in order to proceed, despite everything, towards ordination.”

Released during the pontificate of Benedict XVI, that instruction was reiterated in a 2016 Congregation for Clergy ratio on priestly formation approved by Pope Francis.

Church norms maintain that any “transitory” homosexual tendencies have to be “clearly overcome” three years before ordination to the diaconate.

Cardinal Marx had offered his resignation to Pope Francis in June 2021 as a result of the widespread mishandling of sexual abuse cases in the church, but the Argentine pontiff turned him down.