Following priest shortage, which Catholic church has been facing, Pope Francis has suggested that the church may be forced to ordain married men to minister in remote communities.
Pope Francis stated this in an interview with Germany’s Die Zeit.
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 ‘viri probati’ proposal is about ordaining married men of proven faith, and has been around for decades. It is currently receiving fresh attention following the challenges facing the church in places like Brazil, a huge Catholic country with an acute shortage of priests.
Former head of the Vatican’s office for clergy Brazilian Cardinal Claudio Hummes, a bosom friend of Pope Francis is in the forefront of the campaign to allow viri probati in the Amazon, where the church counts around one priest for every 10,000 Catholics.
The pope has shown particular openness to receiving concrete proposals for ordaining married men and has shown concern for men who have left ministry to marry.
Though he favours a celibate priesthood, he is of the view that celibacy technically can be up for discussion since it’s a discipline of the church, not a dogma.
Catholic church allows some exceptions to the rule. Priests in the eastern rite Catholic Church are allowed to be married, as well as married Anglican priests who convert to Catholicism.