Pope Francis indicates willingness to allow married Catholic men to become priests
Pope Francis made the comments in an interview with a German newspaper.
The head of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis, has indicated that he would be open to changes in the rules surrounding eligibility for the priesthood by allowing married Catholic men to become priests.
Pope Francis made the comments in an interview with German newspaper Die Ziet, in which the shortage of clergy members in the Catholic Church was amongst the topics addressed.
During the interview, Pope Francis brought up the term ‘viri probati’, which refers to ‘tested men’ or ‘married men of outstanding faith and virtue’, saying that they might have to be considered to address the current shortage of clergy in the Catholic Church.
"We need to consider if 'viri probati' could be a possibility," he said.
"If so, we would need to determine what duties they could undertake, for example, in remote communities."
While ‘viri probati’ refers to married men, Pope Francis would not advocate the possibility of unmarried men becoming priests in the Catholic Church.
"Voluntary celibacy is not a solution," he added.
Married priests are already allowed in certain cases in the Catholic Church; married Protestant priests who convert to Catholicism, for example, are allowed to remain married and continue as a priest provided they have the permission of their wives.
Pope Francis’ views on married priests have progressed somewhat from when he wrote his book, On Heaven and Earth’, in which he expressed the following sentiments:
"For the time being, I am in favour of maintaining celibacy with the pros and cons that it has, because it has been ten centuries of good experiences more often than failure."