Pope says he's open to allowing married men to be priests

The head of the Catholic Church has said it may consider ordaining married men to cope with a shortage of priests.

The same rite already allows some married non-Catholic clergymen who become Catholics to be ordained priests - such as former Anglican clergy. "Then we have to decide what tasks they can take on, for example in remote communities".

However, in an interview with German newspaper Die Zeit, the 80-year-old revealed that the lack of Catholic priests was an "enormous problem" for the Church, and hinted he would be open to a change in the rules that state who can now be eligibility for the priesthood.

Despite criticism from conservative opponents who question his approach to church doctrine and his reform of the Vatican Curia, the pope said he had never lost his peace of mind.

"We must consider if viri probati is a possibility", he said, according to the AP.

He has also said that while he favors a celibate priesthood, celibacy technically can be up for discussion since it's a discipline of the church, not a dogma.

Francis has shown particular openness to receiving concrete proposals for ordaining married men as well as his own pastoral concern for men who have left ministry to marry.

The church allows some exceptions to the rule.

In a wide-ranging interview published Thursday (March 9) in Germany's Die Zeit weekly, the pontiff acknowledged: "I too know moments of emptiness".

The pope confirmed his plans to visit India, Bangladesh and Colombia as well as Fatima in Portugal, but he said his trip to South Sudan may not go ahead.

  • Leroy Wright