Pope Francis is finally ready to meet with a half-dozen victims of predator priests. “Finally,” because Pope Benedict repeatedly had such meetings. And with so much at stake — everything, really — it’s been perplexing that the warm and pastoral “cold-call pope” hadn’t more quickly followed suit in the 15 months since his installation.
The bigger surprise in the pontiff’s hourlong Q&A with reporters on his flight from Jerusalem back to Rome last Monday night, though, was the way he spoke about priestly celibacy. “Celibacy is not a dogma of faith,” he said when asked about a letter he’d received recently from women in love with priests they want to be able to marry. That discipline “is a rule of life that I appreciate a great deal,” Francis said, “and I believe it is a gift for the Church.” But “the door is always open” to changing that rule, “given that it is not a dogma of faith.”