Pope Francis promises 'solutions' to priestly celibacy

Pope Francis waves as he addresses his Sunday Angelus from the window of his study overlooking St.Peter's Square at the Vatican on July 6, 2014. Pope Francis promised "solutions" to the issue of priestly celibacy in an interview on Sunday that r
Pope Francis waves as he addresses his Sunday Angelus from the window of his study overlooking St.Peter's Square at the Vatican on July 6, 2014. Pope Francis promised "solutions" to the issue of priestly celibacy in an interview on Sunday that raised the possibility the Catholic Church could eventually lift the interdiction on married priests. -- PHOTO: AFP

VATICAN CITY (AFP) - Pope Francis promised "solutions" to the issue of priestly celibacy in an interview on Sunday that raised the possibility the Catholic Church could eventually lift the interdiction on married priests.

Speaking to Italy's La Repubblica daily, Francis also condemned child sex abuse as a "leprosy" in the Church and cited his aides as saying that "the level of paedophilia in the Church is at two percent".

"That two percent includes priests and even bishops and cardinals," he said.

Asked whether priests might one day be allowed to marry, Francis pointed out that celibacy was instituted "900 years after Our Lord's death" and that clerics can marry in some Eastern Churches under Vatican tutelage.

"There definitely is a problem but it is not a major one. This needs time but there are solutions and I will find them," Francis said, without giving further details.

The interview was the third in a series with the 90-year-old founder of the La Repubblica daily, Eugenio Scalfari, a famous journalist and known atheist.