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Eastern Rite Officials in North America request married priests

 |  NCR Today

There continues to be limited movement on the issue of mandatory celibacy. The New York Times is reporting that Catholic and Orthodox officials have requested that the Vatican grant them the authority to ordain married men to the priesthood.

The answer from Rome would appear to be a no brainer. Eastern Rite Catholics have a tradition of a married clergy. They are requesting approval to initiate a practice in the United States that is currently in effect worldwide and which has been their practice for centuries. The Vatican under Benedict XVI has already allowed entire Episcopal parishes to enter the Roman Church and retain their customs and liturgies. It would seem unlikely that Rome would not approve such a request for Eastern Rite churches already in union with Rome.

Additionally, if there were eventually to be a reunion of Roman Catholics and Orthodox Christians, approving this change would suggest that Orthodox communities would also be permitted to retain their traditions -- including that of a married clergy. It is not unreasonable to expect that such an opening could result in additional pressure to relax the Roman rule on celibacy and provide other possible situations where more married priests may be allowed.

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