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Pope Francis decides against allowing married men to become priests

Celibacy issue dividing church as it seeks to address shortage of clerics in remote areas

Pope Francis has decided against opening up the Roman Catholic priesthood to married men – a move that will please traditionalists but dismay those who argue that easing the celibacy rule would tackle a shortage of clerics.

Instead, an “apostolic exhortation” from the pontiff has focused on environmental damage after bishops from the Amazon highlighted the destruction of the region’s rainforests and exploitation of Indigenous people at a Vatican summit last year.

Read more: Pope Francis decides against allowing married men to become priests

Pope Francis rules against ordaining married men in Amazon

Pope Francis has ruled against ordaining married men in the Amazon region as a means of addressing the shortage of Catholic priests.

Bishops backed the measure last year, but the decision needed the Pope's approval to be implemented.

Catholic priests are required to abide by the rule of celibacy upon ordination except in cases where married Anglican ministers have converted.

Celibacy is seen as the devotion of one's life to God.

A statement from the Vatican said: "The Amazon challenges us, the Pope writes, to overcome limited perspectives and not to content ourselves with solutions that address only part of the situation."

The Pope said there was a need for ministers who can understand Amazonian sensibilities and cultures from within. He urged bishops to "promote prayer for priestly vocations" and to encourage those who want to become missionaries to "opt for the Amazon region".

In October last year, a synod of 184 bishops met at the Vatican to discuss the future of the Church in the Amazon. It was argued that older, married men should be allowed to become priests.

However, they would need to be men who are particularly well-respected and would preferably come from the indigenous communities where they intend to work.

It is estimated that at least 85% of villages in the Amazon are unable to celebrate Mass every week as a result of a shortage of priests. Some are said to only see a priest once a year.

But the conservative wing of the Catholic Church - particularly in Europe and North America - has spoken out against the idea, arguing that this could lead to the global abolition of celibacy.

Pope Francis had previously said he would consider the possibility of viri probati (men of proven faith) carrying out some duties.

"We have to give a thought to whether viri probati are a possibility," he told German newspaper Der Zeit.

Also on Wednesday, the Pope announced he had decided not to allow women to serve as deacons, a lower rank than priest.

Children of Priests Documentary

Just finished an interview with Dan Tierney from BBC Radio 4 on the subject of chidren of priests. The programme will be broadcast on the 31st March. The backdrop for the programme is the Amazon Synod and the possibility of Pope Francis allowing the ordination of married men of good standing in their communities.

Clericalism cited as root of sex abuse crisis

At Villanova event, Hans Zollner calls out past systemic failure in reporting, stopping abuse

In a Jan. 29 talk at Villanova University in Pennsylvania, Jesuit Fr. Hans Zollner said that clericalism is the root cause of the damage done to the church and called out past systemic failure in reporting, punishing and stopping abuse.

"There is general mistrust and suspicion on cardinals and bishops. This is not just happening in U.S. and Australia — the level of trust on bishops is below zero. And this has devastated an institution that is built on trust and faith," he said.

Zollner, a professor of psychology and president of the Center for Child Protection, at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, spoke as part of a series examining the sex abuse crisis. Zollner spoke on the situation of the church across the globe.

Read more: Clericalism cited as root of sex abuse crisis

BBC Radio Scotland - Celibacy for Catholic Priests



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