Pope Francis is about to break the biblical tradition by ordaining married priest. Traditionally, to become a priest in the Catholic Church one has to take a vow of celibacy.
The Pope is seeking solutions to the decline in the church’s ability to extend clerical service to the wider masses in rural areas in different countries.
He suggested ordaining married men to address the shortage of priests in rural areas. He stressed that asking the priests in training to choose whether to remain celibate or marry was not a solution to the shortage of priests.
“We must think about whether viri probati are a possibility,” Francis said during an interview on Thursday with a German weekly Die Zeit. “viri probati refers to older married men.
A debate on the contentious religious issue started during his predecessor Benedict XVI who said celibacy was not a rigid Christian teaching like “the resurrection of Jesus”.
Pope Francis cited older married men that have demonstrated rare commitment to the Church through various services.
They will not, however, do all the priestly work, according to the Pope.
“Then we have to decide what tasks they can take on, for example in remote communities,” Francis said.
The Holy Father expressed optimism that these men would effectively serve the Church in hard-to-reach areas.
Meanwhile the Pope is known to have said that the phenomenon of having married men ordained as priests was not new, citing the Anglican priests who had joined the Catholic Church, priests in some churches in the Oriental world and Coptic Church. He was quoted saying, “There are married priests in the Church.”