Roman Catholic priests should be able to marry and have children, Britain’s most senior cardinal said on Friday.
Cardinal Keith O’Brien, who will be part of the conclave tasked with chosing a new pope to replace Benedict XVI, said the church’s requirement for priests to be celibate was not of “divine origin” and should be reconsidered.
O’Brien will have a say in who succeeds Benedict after he stands down on February 28.
He said he had not yet decided who should take over leadership of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics, but suggested it could be time for a younger pontiff, possibly from the developing world.
Benedict stunned the world last week by becoming the first pope in more than 700 years to resign voluntarily.
No clear favourite has emerged, although the 85-year-old’s announcement that he lacked the strength to lead the church indicates the need for a younger pope.