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Pope Francis considers dropping celibacy requirements for some priests

by Ace Damon
Pope Francis considers dropping celibacy requirements for some priests

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In 2017, Pope Francis told a German newspaper that mature, married men of proven faith could serve in isolated areas.
USA TODAY

Pope Francis urged South American bishops gathered at the Vatican on Monday to "speak with courage" when addressing a serious shortage of priests in remote areas of the region, which could result in the removal of church celibacy requirements for some. Fathers.

The three-week Synod of Bishops for the Amazon will also address crucial regional topics ranging from protecting tropical forests and local crops to climate change, migration and clean water.

"We didn't come here to invent social development or culture custody programs," the pope said. "We come to contemplate, understand, serve the people."

Cardinal Claudio Hummes, retired archbishop of Sao Paulo who organized the synod, said that many rural communities in the Amazon have so little access to priests that Sunday Mass cannot be held. And although the Eucharist may be distributed to worshipers by non-priests, cookies must be blessed by a priest.

The latest rites and other Catholic sacraments are also affected, Hummes said.

"Indigenous communities, faced with the urgent need of most Catholic communities in the Amazon, have called for the way to be ordained for the ordination of married men resident in their communities," said Hummes. "While confirming the great importance of the charism of celibacy in the Church."

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Jim Bretzke, a professor of theology at John Carroll University, says the proposal is not really new and would not need to change the fundamental principles of the church. But he told USA Today today that the last two popes, Benedict XVI and John Paul II, would probably have dismissed the idea, no matter how few priests became.

"Pope Francis, however, has shown himself reconsidering practical issues in a way that his predecessors were reluctant to do," Bretzke said. He added that the pope, a native of South America, "may be more aware and sensitive to the realities of the local church."

The answer to the proposal will come from those already unhappy with the changes demanded by the pope, Bretzke said. Francis also warned against clericalism, or an attitude of clerical superiority adopted by some priests and bishops who consider themselves special or superior to others.

"I think the reaction is mainly part of a proxy war of the" cultural war "in which divergent views on clericalism are being fought," Bretzke said.

The Catholic Church has demanded celibacy from its priests for centuries. Vows were broken so often, however, that the Vatican established secret guidelines for dealing with clergymen who had children, Vatican spokesman Alessandro Gisotti acknowledged in February.

The proposal, however, involves married men with children before ordination. Francisco, originally from Argentina, is fully aware of the struggles the church faces in serving its flock in the region.

Francis said he might consider ordering married men to address the scarcity of priests. In March 2017, he told the German newspaper Der Zeit that mature, married men of proven faith could serve in isolated areas. He did not, however, give young priests the option to reject celibacy.

Still, the proposal is not a block to get the pontiff's approval.

"The pope realizes that a decision made by one region is likely to have ramifications for other regions, and that could pause him," Bretzke said. "In addition, it is clear that ultra-conservatives are focusing on this particular issue and are trying to repackage it as" heresy "or" dangerous "as part of their larger anti-vision agenda of the church that Pope Francis is trying to promote.

Read or share this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2019/10/07/pope-francis-celibacy-requirement-some-priests-may-waived/3896740002/

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