VATICAN - First Debate on Married Priests

Arno Froese

The Vatican formally opened debate on letting married men be ordained as priests in remote parts of the Amazon where priests are so few that Catholics can go weeks or months without attending a Mass.

The document, prepared by the Vatican based on input from the region, affirmed that celibacy is a gift for the Catholic Church.

The idea of ordaining so-called “viri probati”—married men of proven virtue—has been around for decades to cope with a priest shortage and decline in vocations overall. But it has drawn fresh attention under Pope Francis, history’s first Latin American pope, thanks to his familiarity with the challenges facing the Amazon church.

Brazil’s bishops have long pushed for the church to consider ordaining viri probati to minister in remote parts of the Amazon whereby some estimates there is one priest for every 10,000 Catholics.

The celibacy question has been a mainstay in Catholic debate given it is a discipline, not a doctrine, and therefore can change. The church has had the tradition since the 11th century, imposed in part to spare the church the financial burdens of providing for large families and to ensure that any assets of the priest would pass to the church, not his heirs.

Proponents of a relaxation of the rule say more men would consider a vocation to the priesthood if they could marry, a surefire fix to the decline in priests globally.

Opponents say relaxing the rule for the Amazon will certainly fuel calls for it to be relaxed elsewhere. Already, married men can be ordained in the Eastern rite Catholic Church and married men who convert from Protestant churches can be Catholic priests.

-www.apnews.com, 17 June 2019

Arno's commentary

The Catholic Church has faced—but we must add, also overcome—innumerable hurdles throughout their history. Many changes have been implemented in this denomination, and changes will continue into the future.

Church leadership is defined in 1 Timothy 3:1-4: “This is a true saying, if a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity.”

Arno Froese is the executive director of Midnight Call Ministries and editor-in-chief of the acclaimed prophetic magazines Midnight Call and News From Israel. He has authored a number of well-received books, and has sponsored many prophecy conferences in the U.S., Canada, and Israel. His extensive travels have contributed to his keen insight into Bible prophecy, as he sees it from an international perspective.

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