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Pope paves the way for married men to become priests

  • Pope Francis is considering allowing married men join the priesthood 
  • The men of proven faith – viri probati – might become priests in remote regions
  • The married priests will not be expected to adhere to church rules on celibacy  

Pope Francis is considering plans to allow married men to ordain as Catholic priests in remote areas where there are chronic shortages of clergy. 

The pontiff is considering proposals raised by bishops in Brazil who complain some areas are only administered by a priest a couple of times a year. 

Under the proposals, married men of proven faith, known as ‘viri probati’ by the church, will be able to join the priesthood.

Pope Francis, pictured is considering allowing married men to become ordained priests 

The pontiff believes married men of proven faith could fill as clergy in remote areas 

The pontiff believes married men of proven faith could fill as clergy in remote areas 

The plan being considered by the Vatican will not allow existing priests to marry, although some former clergy who left the priesthood to start a family may be allowed to return. 

Theologians believe the issue of married priests could be acceptable as celibacy is regarded as a matter of church discipline rather than dogma. 

Pope Francis does not believe removing the celibacy rule from existing priests will help solve the problem of shortages in clergy. 

Earlier this year, Pope Francis said: ‘We must consider if viri probati is a possibility. Then we must determine what tasks they can perform, for example, in remote communities.’

Brazilian Cardinal Claudio Hummes, who is a friend of the pontiff wants to allow married men to minister in the Amazon, where there is only one priest for every 10,000 Catholics.   

The church allows some exceptions to the rule. Priests in the eastern rite Catholic Church are allowed to be married, as are married Anglican priests who convert to Catholicism.