Feb 22, 2016
Speculation and trial balloons floating lately over the Vatican walls suggest that Pope Francis wants to open up a discussion of married priests in the Church. According to reports, this will be the topic of the next world Synod of Bishops in a couple of years.
Yes, I know the Church already has some married priests, and many of them are admirable people doing excellent pastoral work. The point now would presumably be to broaden the practice in the western Church and increase the number of such priests.
The argument for doing so is the need to make more priests available to provide the Eucharist to Catholics as the number of celibate priests drops in many places. If it were done, it would most likely be by ordaining so-called "viri probati"-older married men of exemplary character-to function as what might be called (inaccurately) "weekend priests" available for service much the way many permanent deacons now are.
This is hardly a new idea. It's been batted around at least since Vatican Council II more than half a century ago. As the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, recently remarked, it would be hard to object now to a "positive and constructive" discussion of this matter. Pope Francis apparently agrees.