Vatican City - Pope Francis on Thursday opened pre-Easter celebrations by praising priestly celibacy, urging Catholic clergy to rejoice in their "ever renewed fidelity to the one bride, to the Church.
"His remarks seemed to rule out the possibility that a ban on marriage for priests - which is for example allowed in the Anglican Church -could be reconsidered, as part of wider reforms that are being discussed in the Vatican.
"Priestly joy is a joy which is sister to fidelity. Not primarily in the sense that we are all immaculate - would that by God's grace we were - for we are sinners, but in the sense of an ever renewed fidelity to the one Bride, to the Church," Francis said.
He was leading Chrism Mass in St Peter's Basilica, part of Holy Thursday celebrations that will see Francis perform the ritual washing of the feet at a Catholic-run centre for disabled people later in the day.
The washing of the feet recalls the gesture performed by Jesus on the twelve apostles before the Last Supper.