In the Amazon region of Brazil where there is an acute shortage of priests, Pope Francis has reportedly requested a debate to allow married men become priests.
The topic is likely to be on the agenda at a Synod in Rome planned for 2019. Such a discussion, however, would open up a wider debate across the church worldwide, including a synod in Australia being planned for 2020
According to Telegraph, the pope’s decision was a result of a request made by Cardinal Claudio Hummes, the president of the Episcopal Commission for the Amazon.
Cardinal Hummes had reportedly asked that the Pope ordain “married men of great faith” who would minister to people in the remote region of the Amazon, where evangelical Christians and pagan sects are displacing Catholics.
Cardinal Hummes’ request has also been supported by Monsignor Erwin Krautler, the secretary of the Episcopal Commission.
The cardinal has also suggested that women deacons be ordained as priests by bishops attending the synod in 2019 in the Amazon.
Telegraph reports that Pope Francis is open to the idea of “Viri Probati” (married men of great faith) serving as priests.
“We must consider if viri probati is a possibility,” he told Germany’s Die Zeit newspaper. “Then we must determine what tasks they can perform, for example, in remote communities.”
“They would have a normal married life,” Monsignor Giacomo Canobbio, a leading Italian theologian said. There are reportedly 10,000 Catholics for every 1 priest in the Amazon.
The move could also benefit African priests, Monsignor Canobbio said.