June 9, 2014

ABOARD THE PAPAL FLIGHT FROM TEL AVIV – Pope Francis said the door is open to allowing more married priests in the Catholic Church, in the Latin rite as well as the Eastern Catholic churches where the practice is already established.

"Celibacy is not a dogma of faith, it is a rule of life that I appreciate very much and believe to be a gift for the Church," the pope told reporters May 26. "Not being a dogma of faith, the door is always open."

Pope Francis made similar comments when he was archbishop of Buenos Aires but his remarks during a wide-ranging inflight news conference on his return to Rome from the Holy Land were the first he has made since becoming pope.

The pope also said he will meet with a group of sex abuse victims in June.

The pope confirmed reports the Vatican is investigating charges its former secretary of state misappropriated 15 million euro from the Vatican bank.

The pope described the abuse of children by priests as "such an ugly crime" and a "very grave problem," the betrayal of a priest's duty to lead young people to holiness, comparable to performance of a Black Mass.