Pope open to discussion of married priests

Pope open to discussion of married priests

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis is open to discussion on the topic of married priests, according to published reports in several European media outlets.

The Pope’s comments came in response to a question on the matter from Cardinal Cláudio Hummes, the president of the Episcopal Commission for the Amazon, according to the newspaper Il Messaggero. There is a shortage of priests in the Amazon region, where the ratio of Catholics to priests is 10,000 to 1, about three times the worldwide ratio of Catholics to priests throughout the world, and more than five times the ratio in the United States, according to Catholic News Agency (CNA).

The comments have been broadly interpreted to mean that Pope Francis is considering opening the door for priests throughout the Roman Catholic Church to get married.

However, Kurt Martens, a professor at The Catholic University of America in Washington, told CNA there is no reason to think the Pope’s comments apply to priests worldwide. “Even if the synod would recommend or ask for the ordination of viri probati (married priests) in the Pan-Amazon area, it is important to note that the Pope still would have to accept the request and make it into law, and it would most likely be limited to that area,” he said.

“So we are not talking about changing the law on celibacy for the whole Church: it would be the ordination of viri probati for only that region,” he added.

The celibate priesthood has long been a tradition of the Roman Catholic Church, with exceptions made only in the cases of married ministers of other denominations who convert to Catholicism and then become priests. A 2019 Synod of Bishops is expected to focus on the Catholic Church in the Amazon basin. (TAB)