Andrea Tornielli, editorial director of the Dicastery for Communications in the Vatican, said that married priests will be a subject of discussion during the upcoming synod of bishops on the Amazon, which will take place October 6-27 in Rome, but noted that the synod does not have the power to make decisions on the matter.
“The synod will discuss the possibility, for territories like the Amazon, to propose the ordination of married men. That is, the ordination of catechists, older persons who already have a role of responsibility in several communities. But it’s not a decision already made, nor is it certain that they synod will arrive at that decision.” Tornielli said in an interview Sept. 19.
“In any case it would not be a decision of the synod but it would be a decision of the pope,” Tornielli said in the interview, which was published on the Facebook page of the Brazilian bishops’ conference.
Tornielli referred to the working document of the synod:
“Affirming that celibacy is a gift for the Church, it is asked, that for the most remote areas of the region, the possibility be studied of priestly ordination for older people, preferably indigenous, respected, and accepted by their community even though they still have a constituted and stable family, for the purpose of ensuring the sacraments that accompany and sustain the Christian life,” the working document says.
In the interview, Tornielli explained that “the synod does not approve anything because it is a consultative body, the one who decides is the pope. We know, because we have read it, the synod’s Instrumentum laboris mentions the difficulties that communities in remote areas face in receiving the sacraments, and of having priests who can celebrate Mass.”
He also noted that “for many centuries in the Catholic Church there have been married priests. They are the priests of the Eastern Catholic Churches who have returned to full communion with Rome. But note, it’s not that priests can marry but that persons already married are ordained, this is for the Easterners.”
“The same thing exists, and perhaps this will be a surprise for our listeners, in the Latin Rite Church, as an exception, from the time of Pius XII. Pope Pacelli received former Anglican priests who wanted to enter into communion with Rome and as they were married they were ordained priests and they support their families,” he continued.
Moreover, Tornielli then said, “Pope Benedict himself with the constitution Anglicanorum coetibus has established that this exception can continue in the case of the Anglicans. So there already are exceptions.”
In effect, in 2009 Pope Benedict XVI approved the creation of personal ordinariates, jurisdictions created to receive the Anglicans who request by the thousands to return to full communion with the Catholic Church. In that framework, married Anglican priests can be ordained as Catholic priests.