Zulehner: Pope allows priestly ordination of married people, if …

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The Viennese Catholic theologian Paul Michael Zulehner assumes that Pope Francis radically changes the conditions of admission to the priesthood if the bishops of the Amazon region so decide. Then married, working men could be consecrated, said Zulehner in Freiburg. In the long term, this path should also be open to women.

So far, only unmarried men in the Catholic Church can be ordained a priest. Zulehner justified his assessment with a statement by the Pope to Bishop Erwin Kräutler that the Synod of Bishops in the Vatican next year should make bold proposals.

“Overcoming the paralyzing stagnation of the Catholic world church”

There is some speculation as to whether the Pope will change the admission requirements for the priesthood for the sparsely populated South American Amazon, with widely scattered churches and few priests. Zulehner spoke of “models on the periphery that make world church career”. Such decentralization could overcome the “paralyzing stagnation of the Catholic world church”.

The theologian also referred to a position paper prepared by him together with the former South African Bishop Fritz Lobinger. According to this, the municipalities should appoint from their midst women and men (“personae probatae”) who receive a three-year pastoral education and are then ordained a “Team of Elders”.

The paper explicitly opposes the equally discussed model of the ” viri probati “, according to which married and church-employed men should be ordained. Full-time employees should rather be settled in professional pastoral projects, so Zulehner .

This is not the first time that Zulehner has commented on the topic. Already at the beginning of the year, the pastoral theologian had speculated about an early opening of the priesthood for married men . “I suspect that Latin American bishops will decide on the Amazon Synod in 2019. The Pope should give them the backing,” said Zulehner in an interview with the Austrian newspaper “Kurier”. This would put other local churches under pressure to follow the example of Latin Americans. “It is one of the most important decisions in this pontificate that the Pope overcomes centralism,” said Zulehner.