Viri probati - married priests

Saturday, November 9, 2019. I was excited to read that the Amazon Synod (held in Rome in October) agreed upon a proposal that will allow married deacons to become priests as “viri probati”. The document was approved by 128 against 41 voters and might soon get ratified by the pope. Critics of the proposal warn us to not reduce the work of evangelisation to what NGOs do. They say that many humans are already working for saving our planet, but the Church should focus on answering the “thirst for spirituality”.

The proposal would allow “mature indigenous persons” with an “established and stable family” into the priesthood in order to ensure the Sacrament of the Eucharist. This is a revolutionary step I wouldn’t have imagined ten years ago. I hope that it will soon get applied in the other parts of the world as well.

Priest shortage is a serious challenge in the Amazon region. Some Catholic communities are left mostly on their own while evangelical congregations with efficient and capital-friendly public relations managers are increasingly catching believers. I’d say that this challenge is actually serious in most parts of the world.

I don’t think that this step would be the “end of celibacy”. I think that celibacy should become optional for priests and that we should learn to differentiate between celibacy and priesthood. Celibacy as a life choice is an important testimonial given by the individual humans who choose to not marry because they want to be fully available for the Kingdom of God. This choice would get even more attention and value by separating it from priesthood.

The controversial reactions to Francis’ powerful and courageous calls for change in general, and to the Amazon Synod in particular, are for me yet another sign of the ongoing Big Schism.