Pope's No. 2: Priest Celibacy Not Set in Stone Says it's up for discussion, though it is an important tradition By Ruth Brown, Newser Staff Posted Sep 11, 2013 11:20 AM CDT 55 comments Comments Italian archbishop Pietro Parolin speaks to the media in Hanoi, Vietnam. (AP Photo/ Chau Doan, File) (Newser) – While Pope Francis is off puttering around in a second-hand car, his soon-to-be secretary of state has been doing something even more controversial: talking about priestly celibacy. When he was asked about it by a Venezuelan newspaper, Archbishop Pietro Parolin said the matter was open to discussion. "Celibacy is not an institution, but look, it is also true that you can discuss (it) because as you say this is not a dogma, a dogma of the church," Parolin said, per NBC News. He did, however, stress that it is a long-held Catholic tradition. "The efforts that the church made to keep ecclesiastical celibacy, to impose ecclesiastical celibacy, have to be taken into consideration," he said. "One cannot say simply that this belongs in the past." National Catholic Reporter has a translated transcript of Parolin's full comments, and posits that what he said isn't considered too controversial by moderate Catholics. "What the interview confirms is not so much a spirit of revolution on Francis's watch," argues writer John L. Allen Jr., "but rather the generally pragmatic and moderate stamp of his papacy."