By: Savin Mattozzi ~Staff Writer~
Pope Francis made statements last week that could signal a change in the Catholic Church’s stance on married priests. These statements and an opening up of Church regulations come in the context of a shortage of priests.
Francis suggested to the German newspaper Die Zeit that the Church could be open to ordaining married Catholic men who wish to be priests in a response to low numbers of priests in rural and remote areas.
According to The New York Times, the restriction is not doctrine or dogma. It is a canonized law that asserts that priests can better focus on Christ without the distraction of a wife or family.
“We need to think about whether ‘tested’ men could be a possibility,” Francis said. “If so, we would need to determine what duties they could undertake, for example, in remote communities.”
There was a clear distinction, however that the Church would not allow priests to marry after ordination, only those who were married prior to being ordained.
Theology professor and chair of the theology department Arthur Dewey said in an interview with the Cincinnati Enquirer that there are no theological boundaries for married priests.
“The Catholic Church is facing the fact that there are decreasing numbers of priests in many parts of the world,” Dewey said. “Priests weren’t always celibate. It was in the second or third century that we see that. It was part of the growth of the Church.”
Pope Francis would not be the first pope to allow ordained married priests in the Church. According to Newsweek, in 1980, Pope John Paul II permitted married men to become priests in very specific and limited situations.
“People assume formal, organized religion remains the same,” Dewey said. “Historically, the Church is always reforming, trying to get better. There is a good reason, and this discussion isn’t arbitrary. The needs of these communities must be met. The reality is in certain situations, this may be the only solution.”