In Summary
  • Only priests can consecrate the Eucharist, which is a key part of Catholic Mass.
  • Pope Francis has suggested those at the assembly to consider the possibility of ordaining married men for remote locations, such as the Amazon or the Pacific Islands, where communities seldom have Mass due to a lack of priests.

Vatican City,

An idea to fill empty pulpits in remote locations by allowing married men to become priests is bitterly dividing a Vatican assembly, with critics warning the emotive issue could fracture the Catholic Church.

The hot-button topic of whether an exception can be made to the centuries-old custom of celibacy in places where there is a shortage of priests has dominated the start of the three-week "synod" on the Pan-Amazonian region.

MARRIED MEN

Austro-Brazilian bishop Erwin Krautler said Wednesday he estimated some two-thirds of the bishops in the region support the idea of "viri probati" (married "men of proven virtue") as candidates for priesthood.

"There is no other option, indigenous peoples are clearly asking for it," the former bishop of Xingu in Brazil told journalists.

Pope Francis has suggested those at the assembly to consider the possibility of ordaining married men for remote locations, such as the Amazon or the Pacific Islands, where communities seldom have Mass due to a lack of priests.

Only priests can consecrate the Eucharist, which is a key part of Catholic Mass.

CELIBACY

Krautler and other supporters of the idea say the Eucharist is more important than celibacy, which is not a Church law and only dates back to the 11th century.

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