Pope Francis has stopped short of allowing the ordination of married men as priests in the Amazon, where there are severe shortages of clergy, calling instead for ordained ministers to come to the region and work alongside lay preachers.
His call came after the Amazon bishops called on the Vatican to allow married men to be ordained as priests in the South American region, where the faithful can go months without a Mass.
Francis released a lengthy document, titled "Beloved Amazon," containing his reflections about a three-week long meeting of Amazonian bishops he presided over last fall. The work doesn't mention the subject of whether priests should marry.
His conclusion is a continuation of the nearly 1,000-year-old practice of priestly celibacy. Currently, the Vatican allows married men to become priests in Eastern rite churches. Eager to include converts, it has also allowed married Anglicans to remain priests when they join the Roman Catholic church.
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