Though a small number of Roman Catholic priests already exist including previously married Anglican vicars who have joined the church, Pope Francis has requested that Catholic priests be given the right to get married, a request which also applies to priests in Brazil, and is said to be on the agenda for an upcoming synod (church council) in the Amazon region.
The pontiff took the decision to put a partial lifting of priestly celibacy up for discussion and a possible vote by Brazilian bishops following a request made by Cardinal Claudio Hummes, the president of the Episcopal Commission for the Amazon, Il Messaggero newspaper quoted the sources saying.
Cardinal Hummes reportedly asked Francis to consider ordaining so-called viri probati, married men of great faith, capable of ministering spiritually to the many remote communities in the Amazon where there is a shortage of priests, and evangelical Christians and pagan sects are displacing Catholicism. He has also suggested that the bishops attending the synod in 2019 on the Amazon, now being prepared in Rome, should consider ordaining women deacons as priests.
In an interview with Germany’s Die Zeit newspaper, the pontiff said “We must consider if viri probati is a possibility. Then we must determine what tasks they can perform, for example, in remote communities,” he said.
In the Amazon region, for instance, there is just one priest for every 10,000 Catholics.