Once again the mainstream media have taken a few words from the Vatican officials and pretty much got the wrong end of the stick. The Times of London reports here that Pietro Parolin–who is to become the new Secretary of State–has said that the tradition of celibacy is not a dogma of the church and therefore it can be discussed. The problem with the reporting is that his statements are being framed as some sort of new declaration from Rome.
In fact celibacy for priests has always been acknowledged as a discipline not a dogma, and therefore open to revision and change. The fact that I, and several hundred other married former Anglicans are Catholic priests (not to mention priests of the Eastern Rite churches) is evidence that this discipline can be changed and exceptions to the rule can be made.
If there are discussions on this issue they move is very unlikely to be a completely open door for priests to marry. Instead the church may open the way for older men who are already married to be ordained as priests. They are very unlikely to go counter to the Eastern Orthodox tradition that married men may be ordained, but priests may not marry.
So in case people are worried that their priest is going to start dating…pretty unlikely. Instead, Deacon Bob–that faithful servant of the church whose kids are grown up may feel the call to the priesthood and permission may be given for him to be ordained.