From NBC News:
The new Secretary of State for the Vatican, Arbishop Pietro Parolin, told a newspaper Wednesday that the traditional, yet often controversial, mandate of the Catholic Church of the priesthood of having to remain celibate, is now open for discussion and some “modifications” as long as it serves the good of the church.
The TODAY show reported that even Pope Francis had alluded to this possible change before he was pope.“Pope Francis himself did speak remarkably on this subject last year, before he was pope, saying that he supports celibacy for priests for the moment…adding that Eastern right churches that do have married priests are still very good priests,” said TODAY.Before Pope Francis, the celibacy rule has been very strict, and not really welcome for discussion.Pope John Paul II stated in a 1988 address to the bishops, “The Church offers to the world a witness of singular importance to Christ’s love through the celibacy of her priests. Celibacy involves the total gift of self to the Lord for life-long service in his Church, with the renunciation of marriage for the sake of the Kingdom of God. It is a gift that God gives to his Church and that manifests the charity which inspires her.”Parolin, who is second in charge in the Vatican, went on to say he sees the Vatican’s celibacy law as one of the biggest challenges for Pope Francis in terms of unity of the congregation and the shortage of priests in the church.
It seems, however, that the NBC news version is an exaggeration of the actual words of the Secretary of State, who merely stated the obvious in an interview to Venezuelan paper El Universal. The celibate priesthood, he said, "is not a dogma of the Church [quite true] and it can be discussed because it is an ecclesiastical tradition", but "it cannot simply be said that it belongs to the past". (Full interview in Spanish - El Universal)