Pope could overturn centuries' old rule by letting priests marry

Pope Francis
Pope Francis is reportedly going to consider lifting the ban on marriage. Source: Getty

Pope Francis is renowned for being a Pope of change – as the leader of the Catholic Church over the past four years, the pope has made drastic changes to church laws and to views that have been held over the centuries.

Now the pope is reportedly again thinking shaking up the Catholic doctrine by allowing priests the right to marry.

Pope Francis has been uneasy about the fact that there are fewer and fewer men joining the priesthood, so is reportedly considering a request for a high-ranking bishop from the Brazil that priests in the region be permitted to marry.

CNN first reported the request from Bishop Erwin Krautler, secretary for the Commission on the Pan-Amazon Region, which is particularly suffering from a dire lack of priests.

It’s the second time this year that 79-year-old Pope has addressed the issue, though.

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In May this year, Pope Francis was interviewed by German newspaper Die Zeit, where he called the lack of priests an “enormous problem” for the church and said that the church needed to “consider if ‘viri probati’ could be a possibility,”

Viri probati is a term that describes ‘tested men’ or married men with an exemplary record of faith and virtue.

There’s no guarantee, however, that even if the move to married priests was permitted in Brazil, it would be widened to other areas.

Numerous reports pointed out that such a big change would be very likely to anger conservative Catholics, who are already furious over the pope’s decision to allow divorced people who’ve remarried to receive communion.

Others may say that it’s not just the celibacy requirement that is putting men off joining the priesthood, but an increasingly irreligious society, in which the name of the Catholic church in particular has been tarnished by long-running child sexual abuse cases.

Proponents of married priests, however, have pointed out that, now we have more of a grasp on the psychological effects that can come with loneliness, it’s better for priests’ mental health for them to be allowed to marry. And it may make more sense for a priests, who’re expected to dish out advice on marriage, to have some experience of the institution themselves.

Do you think it makes sense for priests to be allowed to marry? Do you think it would increase the number of men entering the priesthood? Or is the Catholic church’s name too tarnished for it to regain its old appeal?