Cardinals and bishops attend a mass led by Pope Francis to mark the closing of the Catholic Jubilee Year of Mercy in Saint Peter’s Square at the Vatican November 20, 2016.
In an interview with Germany’s Die Zeit, Francis mulled the possibility of ordaining so-called Viri Probati, meaning religious married men of proven character.
Pope Francis’ remarks to a German newspaper about ordaining married men are being handled cautiously by Roman Catholic hierarchs in Western Pennsylvania.
He ruled out, however, opening the priesthood to all married men or watering down the Catholic Church’s commitment to celibacy among priests.
For centuries, the church has required that priests be unmarried and celibate in order to dedicate themselves fully to serving God. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. Protestant clergy who are married and who convert to Catholicism can continue to be married and be a Catholic priest.
In his interview on Thursday, Francis made it clear he was not pushing to make celibacy optional for new priests.
“I understand that someone might not like (my) way of acting, and I even justify it: there are so many ways of thinking”, he said. “You could be married, you could have children, you could be single, you could be a stock broker”.
The Pope’s comments about married men as potential priests did not surprise DePaul University’s Reverend Stan Ilo.
Monsignor Mike Patnode is a popular priest at St. Francis in Moorhead-45-years in the priesthood and months away from retirement. In fact, in the earliest days of the Catholic Church, numerous priests were married men.
With the severe shortage of Catholic priests in some parts of the world, Pope Francis is reaching out for possible solutions. “He’s saying he’s willing to make exceptions as a merciful gesture”.
“The diocese of Phoenix – we have a couple married priests who have families”, Father Camou said.
Married men are already allowed to become deacons in the church.
“I would certainly give it serious consideration”, he said.