I do wish the Princes of the Church would be a little more careful about how they say things.
One could have every sympathy with the opinion of Cardinal Keith O’Brien reported in the Herald Sun, but it is entirely false to claim, as he is reported to have done, that:
“There was a time when priests got married, and of course we know at the present time in some branches of the church – in some branches of the Catholic church – priests can get married,” he added.
There was, as far as we know, never a time when “priests got married”, either in the Church of the West or of the East. We know what Cardinal O’Brien thinks he is saying, but even today, no ordained priest of the Catholic Church (or deacon for that matter) can “get married”.
What the Church is completely free to do is to choose to change the law regarding the ordination of married laymen. But once they are ordained, that’s it. The unmarried must stay unmarried, and the married, if widowed, cannot remarry. That has always been the law of the Church, and (while it is true to say that we have no record of Jesus himself giving any such command in the Scriptures) it is an unbroken tradition as long and as solid as the tradition that women cannot be ordained to the priesthood.