by Thomas Reese, S.J., NCR
He did it again. Pope Francis held a free-wheeling press conference on the airplane on the way back to Rome from the Holy Land. Even though Vatican officials warned that the pope was tired and asked reporters to keep the questions short, the pope stood and took questions for 40 minutes after a grueling three-day visit to Jordan, Palestine, and Israel.
Under previous popes, these press conferences were usually scripted with questions submitted in writing in advance followed by prepared responses from the pope. Coming back from Brazil, Pope Francis set a more open style, which he repeated on his return from the Holy Land.
The pope gave the press lots to write about.
Many reporters led with his comments in response to a question on celibacy. “The Catholic Church has married priests — Greek Catholics, Coptic Catholics, those of oriental rites,” he told reporters. “Celibacy is not a question of dogma, but rather a rule of life that I greatly appreciate, as I believe it is a gift for the Church. But, since it is not a dogma of the faith, the door is always open.”
In fact, he said nothing new here that he had not already said in his book Of Heaven and Earth, as I reported shortly after his election…