Cardinal Keith O'Brien says priests should be allowed to marry

Cardinal Keith O'Brien

Cardinal Keith O'Brien

In a wide-ranging interview with BBC Scotland's Glenn Campbell on Friday afternoon, Cardinal Keith O'Brien has said he believes priests should be able to marry if they wish to do so. He said that while some rules of the Church - for example those on abortion and euthanasia - are God-given, others are not, and a new Pope might consider looking at these again.

He explained: "For example,  the celibacy of the clergy, whether priests should marry - Jesus didn't say that.... There was a time when priests got married, and of course we know at the present time in some branches of the church - in some branches of the Catholic church - priests can get married, so that is obviously not of divine of origin and it could get discussed again."

Cardinal O'Brien said he had never personally thought about whether he wanted to get married as he had been "too busy" with his duties. But he added: "In my time there was no choice and you didn't really consider it too much, it was part of being a priest. When I was a young boy, the priest didn't get married and that was it.

"I would be very happy if others had the opportunity of considering whether or not they could or should get married.

"It is a free world and I realise that many priests have found it very difficult to cope with celibacy as they lived out their priesthood and felt the need of a companion, of a woman, to whom they could get married and raise a family of their own."

Cardinal O'Brien will be taking part in the conclave that chooses the next Pope in the next few weeks. 

He said he would be open to  someone "from anywhere if I thought it was the right man, whether it was Europe or Asia or Africa or wherever".

Cardinal O'Brien said often a longer papacy follows a short one, and this time, a younger successor who was able to serve for a longer period of time may be able to "get more things done, to steady us up a wee bit and to give us something of the courage of the earlier apostles again".

At present, he said he did not have any idea who he would vote for. That decision would come after he has spent some time in Rome, praying a great deal and reflecting on the issue.

Asked whether he thought he might be chosen, Cardinal O'Brien, who is 74, and has already given up some of his diocesan duties, said the odds were very high against that.  He said he was looking forward to returning home to Scotland after the conclave.

To watch the entire interview see:

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