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Conscience Magazine

Vatican May Be Open to Ordaining Married Priests in Exceptional Circumstances

By Conscience April 29, 2018

Facing a still-growing priest shortage, the Vatican has begun discussing the idea of ordaining married men of a very narrow description for specific Catholic communi­ties. Cardinal Beniamino Stella, prefect of the Congre­gation for Clergy, and Pope Francis have both confirmed that the Vatican is discussing the possibility and has begun investigating the doctrinal concerns related to the policy. In a new book by Italian journalist Fabio Marchese Ragona, Cardinal Stella suggests that the Vatican is particularly trou­bled by the lack of eligible priests for remote or isolated Catholic communities and is open to discussing the possi­bility of ordaining older, married men of “proven virtue” to serve these congre­gations. The move “in no way would lead to an optional celibacy,” the cardinal says, and it is likely to be discussed next year at the special gath­ering of the Synod of Bishops to discuss pastoral work in the Amazon. The Catholic church has faced an increasing shortage of priests worldwide since the 1940s but has been reluctant to introduce reforms that might allow more who feel called to the vocation to partake in pastoral service. Notably, the Vatican has repeatedly shut the door on the ordination of women and the removal of celibacy as a requirement.


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Offers in-depth, cutting-edge coverage of vital contemporary issues, including reproductive rights, sexuality and gender, feminism, the religious right, church and state and US politics. Our readership includes national and international opinion leaders and policymakers, members of the press and leaders in the fields of theology, ethics and women's studies.