Pope: Married Men May Be Solution to 'Enormous Problem'

Francis considering letting already wed men become ordained as priests
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 10, 2017 8:15 AM CST
Pope: Married Men May Be Solution to 'Enormous Problem'
Pope Francis waves in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican on Sunday.   (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

The Roman Catholic Church has an "enormous problem," Pope Francis told German newspaper Die Zeit in an interview published Thursday: a dearth of clergy. To solve that issue, CNN reports, the pontiff is considering tapping into "viri probati"—"tested men," or married ones. What Francis is mulling would allow men who've already said their "I do's" to be ordained, though priests already of the cloth wouldn't get to walk down the aisle. As it stands now, the only priests in the Catholic Church who can wear wedding rings are already married Protestant priests who convert to Catholicism, as well as Eastern Rite priests who become ordained after marriage. The AP notes that the viri probati concept has received renewed interest under the Argentinian-born pope, as he understands the struggles of countries like Brazil, which has a huge Catholic demographic but very few priests.

What's got some irritated about the clergy shortage and the solutions being bandied about: that women aren't being considered in the mix. Per Catholic News Service, while Francis did note he has OKed a commission to research the role of women deacons early in the church's history, he clarified that was more for theological study purposes, "not to open a door." That lines up with statements the pontiff made late last year in which he conceded women did "many other things better than men," but would still likely never be priests, per the Guardian. Also broached in the pope's Die Zeit interview, per the AP: his thoughts on populism popping up in more democratic societies of late (it's "evil" and "ends badly, as the past century showed") and whether he ever harbored his own uncertainties about God. "I, too, know moments of emptiness," he said. (More Pope Francis stories.)

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