Catholic Bishops Support Allowing Married Men to Be Priests


Janell Wang, Staff Writer

A summit of bishops called the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon Region, convened at Vatican City on Saturday. They proposed to Pope Francis on removing the Roman Catholic Church’s almost 1,000-year-old restriction on only allowing unmarried men to become priests in the Amazon region. If Pope Francis approves of this, it’ll be a huge step toward revolutionizing priesthood.

While this proposal is only limited to the isolated regions of South America, it could serve as an example for easing the restriction on married priests globally such as in the U.S and Europe. Pope Francis has already shown to be open to the idea and is expected to make a decision by the end of this year. 

Liberals support this as it would help with tackling the needs of these remote regions and hoped similar occurrences happen in other parts of the world. Conservatives view this as a threat to a long-standing tradition that has persisted for centuries. Part of the reason behind wanting to ease the celibacy requirement on the priesthood is the debate on mixing traditional liturgy and indigenous rites. Tensions raised surrounding this issue and boiled over with the theft and vandalism of aboriginal sculptures in a church. The opposition toward the proposal has accused it of being an extreme departure from the church and a humiliation. Earlier in the month, an Amazonian man was ridiculed for donning feathers on his head while at a papal Mass. Upon hearing this, Pope Francis said, “Tell me, what difference is there in having feathers on your head and the three-cornered hat worn by some officials.”

Many in the church’s hierarchy argued in favor of lifting celibacy with Erin Kräutler, a retired bishop, estimating that around two-thirds of bishops in the Amazon area were in agreement. Kräutler argued that “the indigenous people don’t understand celibacy. They say that very openly, and I see it. When I go to an indigenous village, the first thing they ask is ‘Where is your wife?’ And I tell them, ‘I don’t have one.’ Then they look at me with pity.”

There has also been more of a calling to adapt local rites in with Catholic worship. Conservatives continue to criticize and grew more intense throughout the month. Fertility statues were then stolen from a church that had become a sort of gathering area for the indigenous people. Following the incident, Pope Francis has asked for forgiveness for the theft. Whether the lifting of celibacy will go through or be stopped by conservatives remains to be seen.

Photo courtesy of SLATE.COM