Pope Francis open to allowing married priests in Catholic Church

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Pope Francis open to allowing married priests in Catholic Church

In an interview with German newspaper "Die Zeit", the Catholic Church's top clergy said that "the countries I plan to visit are India, Bangladesh, and Colombia, one day in Fatima (Portugal), and as far as I know, a study trip to Egypt is also planned".

In particular, the AP reported that Brazilian Cardinal Claudio Hummes, who is a friend of Francis, would like the church to allow viri probati in South America due to the high number of Catholics.

Reformers, however, have long suggested that the Vatican could ordain "viri probati" - Latin for men of proven character - who tend to be older, with grown-up families if married.

"We must think yes, viri probati are a possibility". He has also said that while he favors a celibate priesthood, celibacy technically can be up for discussion since it's a discipline of the church, not a dogma. "But optional celibacy is not the solution".

The belief that priests should remain celibate goes back 10 centuries.

In 2013, Archbishop Pietro Parolin, before he became Vatican secretary of state, said priestly celibacy was "not part of church dogma and the issue is open to discussion because it is an ecclesiastical tradition".

Since the church does not recognize civil divorce, it holds that anyone who remarries is living in sin.

This comes amid concerns there are not enough priests to serve remote areas with large Catholic populations, like the Amazon.

The possibility comes as the Catholic church faces an "enormous" priest shortage, especially in rural communities. This isn't the end of celibacy for priests, either.

But the church actually already allows exceptions to the rule.

However, single men who are already priests would not be allowed to marry.

Mathew Schmalz, a professor of religion at College of the Holy Cross, said that if a married Catholic man like him could become a priest, he'd be interested.

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