The Vatican Is Now Considering Having Married Men As Priests

The Vatican Is Now Considering Having Married Men As Priests

Due to the scarcity of priests in remote Amazon, the Vatican is looking at the possibilty of ordaining married men of outstanding character to become priests.

The Roman Catholic Church is now considering ordaining married men to the priesthood in order to make up for the scarcity of priests in the remote parts of Amazon. Due to the shortage of Catholic priests in the area, the groundbreaking recommendation to allow older married men to join the assembly of bishops will take place in October. This document released on Monday also proposed an 'official ministry' composed of women in the area. However, the details of which remain unspecified.



This direct mention of allowing married men in the synod marks a major historical mention in a Vatican document. Since the shift in their rigid rules for one region, people are now filled with hope that this decision could possibly make the Church consider letting more married men in other parts of the world where priests are scarce.


According to a report by BBC News, the 45-page document composed after considering inputs from bishops conferences and local communities mentioned the possibility of ordaining married men who are identified as 'viri probati' (men of proven character) to suffice the need of clergy in the region. In addition to this, the appointed men would be elder members of the society, known for their outstanding character in their local Catholic community, with grown-up families.


"While affirming that celibacy is a gift for the Church, there have been requests that for the most remote areas of the region, (the Church) studies the possibility of conferring priestly ordination on elderly men, preferably indigenous, respected and accepted members of their communities," reads the document. In addition, such men could be ordained "even if they already have an established and stable family, in order to guarantee the sacraments that accompany and sustain Christian life."


In the past, Pope Francis said that he would possibly consider ordaining "men of proven character" in secluded areas that are deprived of sacraments. That being said, he also made it very clear that the church’s broader commitment for priests to remain celibate would remain unchanged. So, priests are the only ones who can conduct Mass or hear confessions, which actually means that the Catholics in the isolated area of Amazon could go without participating in either of the sacraments. The document also strongly opposes the illegal practices like deforestation, mining, and development projects that in turn harm the environment in the region. Due to the pastoral and environmental challenges, the Vatican thinks having a Chruch body could directly address these issues.


The discussion of the formation of the  Amazon Synod will be held at the Vatican from October 6 to 27. Bishops and other eminent representatives from Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, and French Guyana will attend this event in Rome. Votes on every matter will be counted and will be entered in the final document. After which it will be sent to the Pope who will ultimately decide whether or not this could become an official Apostolic Exhortation based on the synod meetings.


If accepted, this wouldn't be the first time married men would serve as Catholic priests. Benedict XVI the predecessor of Francis originally allowed the ordination of some married Anglican priests who also converted to Catholicism to serve as Catholic priests. Similarly, some Eastern Catholic churches like Melkites and Maronites, have allowed married men to become priests for long. 



Although the change is limited, it also marks a dramatic change that goes against the First and Second Lateran Councils of 1123 and 1139 which specifically forbades priests from getting married. The strict rule has been maintained for almost 1,000 years since the Catholic Church had male celibate priests. Removing any prospect of marriage among priests ensured that no wives and children of the said clergyman could claim his property and could be thus retained by the Church.  

Social media was ablaze with comments when the news broke out. Here's what they had to say:












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