The Wall Street Journal reported that Pope Francis formally opened a 3-week Vatican meeting of bishops that will debate whether the Catholic Church should allow married men in South America’s Amazon region to be ordained, on Sunday.
This meeting is important as the Church requires celibacy for the priests for over 1,000 years, but this move can help fill the lack of priests in the region. According to critics, this move will undermine the distinctive character of the priesthood.
According to Vatican statistics, there are 7,200 Christian Catholics per priest in the region, which is 4 times more than in North America.
Five months ago, Pope Francis asked the Church to consider ordaining married elders who are respected by the communities to serve as priests in some parts of South America.
A 3-week Vatican meeting of bishops will consider environmental and religious issues in the Amazon region in general, but priestly celibacy is one of the more contentious items up for debate, according to recent reports.
In other words, the pope did not reference the celibacy debate directly but asked the church to consider innovation.
‘’If everything continues as it was if we spend our days content that this is the way things have always been done, then the gift vanishes smothered by the ashes of fear and concern for defending the status quo.’’
Some opponents of this idea, such as American Cardinal Raymond Burke and Bishop Athanasius Schneider of Kazakhstan asked Catholics to hold prayer vigils and fast for 40 days as a protest of the proposal made by the pope.