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VOCATIONS: Ordination of Older Married Men Under Study

The idea of exceptionally ordaining older married men of proven virtue to celebrate the Eucharist in isolated Catholic communities is something that should be discussed, said Cardinal Beniamino Stella, prefect of the Congregation for Clergy.

The issue is expected to come up in the 2019 Synod of Bishops devoted to the Amazon. Already at synods in 1990 on the priesthood and 2005 on the Eucharist, some bishops – especially from Brazil’s Amazon region – suggested ordaining married men as the only way to ensure Catholics in isolated villages could receive the Eucharist regularly.

Cardinal Stella said that in the Amazon or in some remote Pacific islands, “there is acute suffering because of a real ‘sacramental emergency,’ which the few priests present are not able to accommodate,” cited the Catholic News Service. 

The discussion Pope Francis wants the church to have, he said, is to look seriously at all the options for responding to people’s real hunger for the Eucharist and honoring its central place in the life of the church.

One possibility to explore is the exceptional ordination of older married men in remote communities, he said. “Continuing to maintain their family and jobs and receiving a formation contextualized for their environment, they could offer part-time service to the community they come from in order to guarantee the sacraments, especially by presiding at the Eucharistic celebration.” 


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