Luxembourg Cardinal Calls for Optional Priestly Celibacy — By: Church Militant

LUXEMBOURG ( – The archbishop of Luxembourg thinks optional priestly celibacy could attract more men to the priesthood.

Cdl. Jean-Claude Hollerich

In a recent interview with L’essentiel, a leading francophone newspaper, Cdl. Jean-Claude Hollerich called for a reevaluation of mandatory priestly celibacy.

The cardinal, known for his close relationship with Pope Francis, shared his thoughts on a range of topics, including the Church’s adaptation to Luxembourg’s secular landscape, its changing demographics and pressing moral questions facing the Church today.

Hollerich admitted that some clergy struggle with the vow of celibacy and suggested that offering priests a choice could bolster the dwindling number of vocations in Europe. 

“Some people have a hard time being single,” he surmised. “Giving them the choice would make it possible to have a few more people ready for the priesthood.”

“In Europe, this ‘few’ can make the difference,” he added.

Some people have a hard time being single. 

During the conversation, Hollerich acknowledged the challenges faced by the Church following its “gentle separation” from the state nearly a decade ago, highlighting the impact on religious education and Church finances. 

Despite these hurdles, he expressed satisfaction with the Church’s independence in a diverse society.

The cardinal, an advisor to Pope Francis, described the pontiff as energetic and committed, despite his advancing age. 

Hollerich defended the pope’s controversial blessings of homosexual couples.

“I am absolutely on the same line as the pope,” he asserted. “Would we refuse to bless a homosexual couple because they are ‘sinners’ and would we bless an entrepreneur who is going to invest against humanity?”


“It’s hypocritical,” he added. “The pope considers himself a ‘sinner’ and so do I. The pope does not like to condemn the sins of others without looking at his own.”

Hollerich also touched on the topic of sexual abuse within the Church. 

He reported that a review of Luxembourg’s Church archives revealed little evidence of such abuse, crediting stringent prevention measures, including extensive psychological screening for seminary candidates.

The pope does not like to condemn the sins of others without looking at his own.

Reflecting on Luxembourg’s political landscape, the cardinal praised the intelligence and leadership of new Prime Minister Luc Frieden while maintaining his stance of noninvolvement in political affairs. 

He did, however, critique the government’s ban on begging, calling for compassion and support for the homeless in one of Europe’s wealthiest nations.

“I understand very well that we want to do something against organized begging with buses that arrive from France every morning, to the point of chasing away historic beggars,” Hollerich stated. “But we have to understand the people who sleep on the street and help them anyway.”

Speculation about Hollerich’s potential as a future pope was swiftly dismissed by the cardinal himself, who emphasized his loyalty and service to Pope Francis.

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