Pope Francis says he's open to allowing married men to take on some priest's responsibilities in the Catholic Church. This notion was revealed during an interview with German newspaper Die Zeit.
The Pope’s comments centered around a concept called "viri probati," in which married men of proven faith take on the role of deacon. The pontiff said that deacons may be needed to act as priests in small communities around the world in which priests are in very short supply.
The concept has been talked about for decades as a possible solution within the church, but is making big waves nonetheless.
“I was very surprised,” Catholic parishioner Charlie Stewart said. “I was very happy too, because I think it’s a long time coming.”
The issue of priest shortage has been a big problem for the church for many years, and has become particularly notable in Brazil.
But even in San Antonio, some faithful say that they’re well aware of the problem.
“I mean, they’ve had to close beautiful old parish churches because, not only do they have less priests, but I think they have less parishioners,” churchgoer Anna Phelps said.
The Archdiocese of San Antonio declined to comment on the issue, saying it is just a notion brought up during an interview and doesn’t reflect any change in the church’s position. They added, in a written statement:
“The pope does not indicate or discuss any mechanism or timeframe for addressing the issue.”
Indeed, the question of where this goes is one many are wondering.
“The [Roman] Curia is a very conservative body,” Stewart said. “I think there’s going to be a lot of pushback.”