Pope Francis says he is open to the possibility of permitting married men to become priests to address the serious shortage of Catholic priests in some countries.
The pope raised the idea in an interview with the German newspaper Die Zeit.
He ruled out the prospect of allowing single men who are already priests to marry, but was open to the idea of allowing unmarried laymen or men already married to be ordained.
The pope raised it in the context of allowing “viri probati,” Latin for “tested men,” to be ordained in places with a scarcity of priests.
He told the newspaper the lack of Catholic priests was an “enormous problem” for the church.
“We need to think about whether ‘viri probati’ could be a possibility,” he told the German weekly. “If so, we would need to determine what duties they could undertake, for example, in remote communities.”
However, Francis said allowing priests in training to choose whether or not to be celibate was “not the solution.”
The idea of permitting married priests has been simmering at lower levels in the church in recent years.
In 2014, Bishop Erwin Krautler, bishop of Xingu in the Brazilian rainforest, told the Austrian newspaper Salzburger Nachrichten that he spoke to the pope about the desperate shortage of priests in his region.
The Austrian-born bishop noted that in his diocese, Brazil’s largest with 800 church communities and 700,000 faithful, there were only 27 priests.
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SOURCE: USA Today – Doug Stanglin