A Vatican summit has been called to discuss whether the Church should allow married men to become priests.
It comes as certain parts of the world such as remote parts of the Amazon are experiencing a shortage of clergy.
A synod of bishops from the Amazon will take place at the Vatican in October. A Vatican document says they will discuss the possibility of ‘viri probati’ being ordained.
Viri probati is Latin for ‘men of proven virtue’ and in this case the bishops will be considering that to mean older married men with a high standing in their communities.
A Vatican document states: “While affirming that celibacy is a gift for the church, there have been requests that, for the most remote areas of the region, the possibility of conferring priestly ordination on elderly men is discussed.
“Communities have difficulty in celebrating the Eucharist frequently due to the lack of priests. For this reason, instead of leaving the communities without the Eucharist, the criteria of selection and preparation of the ministers authorised to celebrate it should be changed.”
The kind of men that would be considered are “preferably indigenous, respected and accepted members of their communities”
The document also stated that this type of man could possibly be ordained “even if they already have a family that is established and stable, in order to ensure the sacraments that accompany and sustain the Christian life”.
The document also suggested the possibility of allowing women in the Amazon to take on more significant roles within the Church.
It said: “The feminine presence in communities isn’t always valued.”
Pope Francis has indicated that he would be open to allowing both married men to become priests and to women taking on greater responsibility.
Written by Michael Kehoe @michaelcalling