Married Men as Priests? Pope Open to the Idea; Pope Francis' Remarks to a German Newspaper about Ordaining Married Men Are Being Handled Cautiously by Roman Catholic Hierarchs in Western Pennsylvania. [Derived Headline]

By Huba, Stephen | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, March 10, 2017 | Go to article overview

Married Men as Priests? Pope Open to the Idea; Pope Francis' Remarks to a German Newspaper about Ordaining Married Men Are Being Handled Cautiously by Roman Catholic Hierarchs in Western Pennsylvania. [Derived Headline]


Huba, Stephen, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


Pope Francis' remarks to a German newspaper about ordaining married men are being handled cautiously by Roman Catholic hierarchs in Western Pennsylvania.

Bishop Edward C. Malesic of the Diocese of Greensburg said the pope's comments about the "viri probati," or proven men, were limited in scope and not in reference to the broader issue of priestly celibacy.

"The increase of married clergy would not answer the problem (of the priest shortage), but it might help," Malesic said. "It's not something we would change readily or speedily. There would have to be a lot of dialogue or discussion."

Malesic said he couldn't comment directly on the pope's statement because he hadn't seen a transcript of the interview. But he said the pope also cited the importance of prayer and working with young men "who are discerning the call of the Lord in their lives."

While priestly celibacy is the norm in the Roman Catholic Church, many of the Eastern Catholic churches ordain married men, he said. The Orthodox Church allows married priests, as long as the man is married before entering the diaconate.

Francis' use of the term "viri probati" was an apparent reference not to those already ordained but to the option in some rites of ordaining "proven" married men for specific purposes.

The pope said making celibacy optional is "not the solution" but that recourse to the "viri probati" in places that are experiencing a priest shortage is something worthy of study.

"Then we also have to determine which tasks they could have, for example, in far distant parishes," he was quoted as saying. "In the church, it is always important to recognize the right moment, to recognize when the Holy Spirit demands something. That is why I say that we will continue to reflect about the viri probati."

Bishop David A. Zubik of the Diocese of Pittsburgh said making celibacy optional is not a panacea, as the experience of the Eastern Catholic churches shows.

"The Eastern Catholic bishops have vocation concerns, too. The problem is having a more personal relationship with Jesus and being able to discern your vocation," he said.

Although Eastern-rite Catholics have long had married priests in their countries of origin, their experience with married clergy in North America has been mixed. …

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