Catholic bishops approved a proposal
Saturday allowing some married men to be
ordained as priests in the Amazon region.
The proposal, which must be approved by
Pope Francis, would be a historic change to
the church’s centuries-old tradition of
It passed by a vote of 128-41 and applies
only to some churches in the Amazon region
that are experiencing a shortage of priests.
The region includes parts of Bolivia, Brazil,
Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana,
Peru, Suriname and Venezuela.
The proposal, known as “viri probati,” refers to
older Catholic men, who have stable families,
are respected in their communities and who
are already ordained as deacons in the
Allowing married men to become priests is
not the same thing as allowing priests to
marry, so the change would not affect the rule
of celibacy for Catholic priests, who are not
allowed to marry.
Pope Francis must approve the proposal for it
go into effect, something he said he hopes to
respond to by the end of the year. The pope
has previously stated he was open to
studying the possibility of allowing married
men to be ordained.
Although the Catholic Church currently only
ordains unmarried men to the priesthood,
some converts, from Anglicanism for example,
can become Catholic priests even if they are
The proposal to ordain married men was one
of the most contentious recommendations
voted on Saturday evening at the conclusion
of a three-week long meeting at the Vatican
to discuss environmental and religious issues
affecting the Amazon region.
The Vatican invited 184 bishops and priest
from the Amazon region and around the world
for the special meeting known as a synod.
Thirty-five women, mostly religious sisters
and nuns, were invited but did not have voting
Another proposal recommended continuing to
study the possibility of ordaining women as
A commission set up by Francis in 2016 did
not result in any conclusive