The Catholic Church may soon allow ‘viri probati’, or married men to become priests, especially to serve the faithful in the remote areas. This is according to Pope Francis himself, in his first ever interview with German’s left-leaning weekly newspaper Die Zeit, published this Thursday, May 9. Viri probati is a Latin term which means ‘proven men.’
“We have to reflect about whether the viri probati are a possibility. Then we also have to determine which tasks they could have, for example in far distant parishes.” Pope Francis was quoted as saying, noting that the shortage of priests around the world is now an “enormous problem”, and must be solved as soon as possible.
“In the Church, it is always important to recognize the right moment, to recognize when the Holy Spirit demands something. That is why I say that we will continue to reflect about the viri probati.” The Holy Father added. However, he emphasized that “voluntary celibacy” will still be prohibited. This means priests are still not allowed to get married and have children.
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Nevertheless, this is not the first time that Pope Francis is noted to be considering married men to become priests. In an article at The Tablet back in April 2014, Bishop Erwin Krautler, Bishop of Xingu in the Brazilian rain forest, said that the Holy See is aware of the problem of shortage of priests. He said it was discussed in a private meeting with priests.
“The Pope explained that he could not take everything in hand personally from Rome. We local bishops, who are best acquainted with the needs of our faithful, should be corajudos, that is ‘courageous’ in Spanish, and make concrete suggestions.” Bishop Krautler said at that time, adding that the issue of ‘viri probati’ will be discussed in future bishops’ conferences.