Catholic church ends centuries-old tradition, allows married men as priests
London, Oct. 27, 2019 (AltAfrica)-Catholic Bishops have recommended that the Pope gives permission for married men in the Amazon to become priests, following a landmark vote in the Vatican.
The historic proposal will upend centuries of Roman Catholic tradition and will likely alarm traditionalists who fear the Pontiff’s approval of the recommendation would signify a landmark change in the Church’s centuries-old discipline of celibacy
The proposal, made in a final document of a three-week assembly, known as a synod, passed by a vote of 128 in favour and 41 against.
For the past three weeks Pope Francis has been meeting with Catholics from remote regions of the Amazon, in what is known as the Synod of Bishops on the Amazon, to discuss a number of issues such as deforestation and climate change.
Senior Catholics have also held meetings and debates to discuss the Church’s life and pastoral ministry in the Amazonian region of South America. However, the debate regarding married priests has drawn the most controversy.
On Saturday church leaders finally voted in favour of a document that will pave the way for priests in the Amazon to be married. The vote was tabled in response to a chronic shortage of priests in the Amazon.
Married men in the Amazon will now be allowed to be ordained, following a landmark vote of confidence by bishops.
Conservatives have argued that this is a “slippery slope” – the beginning of the end to the principle of celibacy for clergy – while progressives instead claim that such a measure is necessary to help address the chronic lack of priests in the huge region, where indigenous Catholics can go for weeks or months without a visit from a priest, and to keep the Eucharist alive in such places.
Retired Brazilian Cardinal Cláudio Hummes, referred to the issue earlier this month, and has estimated that up to 80 per cent of people in the Amazon go without the Eucharist for months or even years at a time.
Pope Francis had been taking part in the daily meetings at the Vatican where the discussion had centred on permitting such men – referred to as “proven men,” who are already married – to be ordained.