Vatican mulling married priests in the Amazon

Vatican mulling married priests in the Amazon
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The Vatican is considering letting older, married men be ordained as priests in remote parts of the Amazon to help address a shortage of clergy, Reuters reports.

A document released Monday is said to include the most direct mention of a married priest, marking a historic shift that could have implications for other areas where priests are scarce, Reuters notes. 

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"While affirming that celibacy is a gift for the Church, it is asked that for the most remote areas of the region, the possibility of priestly ordination of elders, preferably indigenous, respected and accepted by their community, even those who already have stable and consolidated families, be studied in order to ensure the sacraments to accompany and sustain Christian life," the document reads, according to the news service.

The document also talked about “viri probati,” a Latin phrase that translates to “men of proven character” — older, involved members of the community with grown-up families — to address the shortage of Catholic clergy, according to Reuters. Without ordained priests, who are the only officials able to say Mass or hear confessions, Catholics are left unable to take part in either activity.

“Even if they already have an established and stable family, in order to guarantee the sacraments that accompany and sustain Christian life,” these priests may be ordained, the document says.

The document, which also reportedly suggested an unspecified “official ministry” for women in the region, is meant to be for a synod, or special meeting, scheduled from Oct. 6 to Oct. 27 at the Vatican.

The Vatican previously said in June 2018 that it was open to discussing ordaining married men.