Pope Francis: Married Men Could Become Priests
November 03, 2017
Currently, only celibate, unmarried men and widowers are allowed to join the priesthood. But, at the request of Cardinal Claudio Hummes, the president of the Episcopal Commission for the Amazon, the pontiff is considering a move that would allow married men in the Amazon region of Brazil to become priests. Not every married man would be eligible, but rather only the “viri probati”—or, married men of great faith—would be ordained. These men would have to demonstrate they are “capable of ministering spiritually.”
Currently, Catholicism is being supplanted in many remote communities in the Amazon with evangelical Christianity, or pagan sects, due to the shortage of eligible priests. As a results, Pope Francis has signaled he is willing to put Hummes’ request up to a vote of Brazil’s bishops.
He has previously expressed openness to exploring the viri probati priesthood. In an interview earlier this year with a German newspaper, he said:
We must consider if viri probati is a possibility. Then we must determine what tasks they can perform, for example, in remote communities.
The Episcopal Commission for the Amazon has also requested allowing women to serve as deacons in the remote jungle regions.
It is believed the moves in Brazil are a sort of “pilot project” aimed at expanding the practice over time to Africa, and then perhaps the remainder of the Catholic Church. Conservatives have already lashed out at a number of the pope’s moves to “modernize” the church.