Pope can’t alter Catholic law on celibacy, female priesthood – Priest
Umuahia – A Catholic Priest in Umuahia, Rev. Fr. Leo Amafili, has said that the new Catholic Pontiff, Pope Francis, cannot alter the Catholic doctrine on celibacy and female priesthood.
Amafili, the Parish priest of St. Finbarr’s Catholic Church, Umuahia, made the statement, while reacting to the election of a new pope.
He expressed the confidence that the pope would help to preserve and promote the ‘’fundamental principles’’ of the Catholic Church rather than subvert an existing tradition.
He said, ‘’the issue of celibacy and female priesthood is a fundamental principle in the Catholic Church and the pope cannot change the Catholic doctrine.
‘’Celibacy is a virtue, a discipline, which the church put in place and has always been there for ages and the whole world recognises it.
‘’It is a free choice and if you do not want to keep to it you leave the priesthood,’’ the priest said.
He said, ‘’in spite of the abuse, celibacy remains a virtue and a sign which has been acceptable.
“Although, man can fall short, this does not mean that celibacy can no longer be what it is; the pope cannot change it, he cannot.’’
He described the issue of female priesthood as a fundamental principle of Christianity and Catholic understanding of what Jesus Christ did.
‘’If Christ wanted women to be priest, he would have done it,’’ he said.
He said Jesus chose women as disciples who followed him but he chose the 12 apostles from men.
“Jesus knew why he did it, the Church is saying that pope cannot t change what Christ did,’’ Amafili said.
He expressed joy over the successful conclave and the emergence of a pontiff outside Europe and described the development as a positive sign of the growth of the Church.
‘’We are very happy and excited about the development and it shows how the spirit works for the pope to emerge from South America.
‘’This is an indication that the Catholic Church is not European, the church has grown in South America, Africa and other parts of the world as a global church,’’ Amafili said.
He described the pope as ‘’very humble, highly spiritual and a Jesuit. This is what the church needs now’’.
Amafili described the pope as a torchbearer who had a lot of work to do, adding that he would show the light outside Europe, not only for Catholics but non-Catholics alike and the entire world.
He advised the pope to strive to renew the people’s faith in God, Jesus Christ and Catholicism.
He said that the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI on health ground should teach world leaders a lesson to quit the stage when one could no longer discharge one’s duties effectively.
The priest also noted that the process of the conclave should teach the world that they should commit the election of their leaders to God.
He expressed the hope that with the increasing number of Cardinals from Africa, the continent had bright prospects of producing a pope in the future.
Also commenting on the development, Rev. Fr. Emma Ogbonnaya, the Director of Communications, Catholic Diocese of Umuahia, described the election of Pope Francis as ‘’a good choice’’.
Ogbonnaya expressed the hope that the new pontiff would not compromise on the issues of same sex marriage, the clamour for Catholic priests to marry and on the issue of abortion.
He advised him to replicate the late Pope John Paul II’s vibrancy in ’moving the Church forward on the path of early apostles, righteousness, uprightness, justice and peace.
A Catholic faithful, Mr Chuks Eledom, said that the successful conclave had restored happiness to the Church.
He pointed out that when Benedict XVI resigned, it looked as if the world had ended.
Eledom urged the new pope to address the challenges currently facing the Church which include the allegation of sex abuse against priests and the unending struggle for ecumenism. (NAN)