The Catholic Church has recently announced that Pope Franics is taking steps towards allowing priests to be married. The request currently applies to priests in Brazil, but it’s thought that it’s on the agenda for other regions including the Amazon. This request is being made in response to the chronic shortage of priests serving in communities, and especially in Brazil and Latin America. Pope Francis hopes that this could be a solution to this ongoing problem. The Pope’s move could also trigger a debate in the Catholic Church about whether women should be allowed to serve as Priests as well.
Although the move is controversial, it could be a viable option when it comes to addressing the shortage of Priests. It’s estimated that in the Amazon region there’s only one priest to serve every 10,000 Catholic followers. There are some divisions within the Catholic Church when it comes to the idea of married priests; however Pope Francis’s more liberal and modern views are popular among many Roman Catholics. Bishops in Brazil have a good relationship with Francis, who is originally from Argentina. He is also aware of the shortage of priests in certain areas and is looking for a solution which would best suit the needs of all Catholics.
The request to remove the marriage ban imposed on priests was originally made by Brazilian bishop Cardinal Claudio Hummes, who asked if they Pope would consider ‘viri probati’, translated – married of great faith, as priests. Francis has said he is open to the idea, and requested his monsignors to“speak to the bishops and tell them to make valid proposals” Brazilian bishops are due to hold a vote on the issue soon. If changes are made, they would only apply to some regions in Brazil for the time being.
The former director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi agrees with the proposals, stating that “It is, however, true that the pope has invited the Brazilian bishops on more than one occasion to seek and propose with courage the pastoral solutions that they believe to be suitable for addressing the major pastoral problems of their country. We must consider if viri probati is a possibility. Then we must determine what tasks they can perform, for example, in remote communities.”
Married priests would not be required to take a vow of celibacy, and would be able to lead a normal married life. Derry priest Father Paddy O’Kane has also recently suggested that Pope Francis is already looking to move towards ending celibacy vows. For now, the debate is only covering Brazil, but will the priest shortage being a worldwide problem; Francis has insisted he is looking to start a debate over both celibacy and marriage for priests.