Catholic Diocese of Cleveland

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Priests and marriage: Pope’s response not so new after all

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – While Pope Francis’ recent comments on the subject of married priests made headlines around the world, his response falls clearly in line with the thinking of his predecessors.

In an interview with German newspaper Die Zeit, published in early March, Pope Francis was asked if allowing candidates for the priesthood to fall in love and marry could be “an incentive” for combating the shortage of priestly vocations.

He was also asked about the possibility of allowing married “viri probati” — men of proven virtue — to become priests.

“We have to study whether ‘viri probati’ are a possibility. We then also need to determine which tasks they could take on, such as in remote communities, for example,” Pope Francis said.

Expressing a willingness to study the question of allowing married men to become priests was hardly a groundbreaking response given that the topic was explored in two meetings of the Synod of Bishops and by both Pope Benedict XVI and St. John Paul II.

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