After a shortage of clergymen in the region, 180 bishops from nine Amazonian countries called on the Vatican to allow married men and women to enter the Catholic priesthood. This progressive idea, defying centuries of Roman Catholic tradition, may actually come to fruition. Pope Francis promised to reopen the case to diversify who is eligible for the priesthood and will come to a conclusion by the end of the year.
“We must go beyond ourselves… to leave our safe harbors and enter the open sea where the Spirit invites us to cast our nets,” stated the Pope in the Vatican press release. Pope Francis’ statement shocked more conservative practitioners of the religion, but for those who know the Pope’s history, this should not come as a surprise. Pope Francis has always been an avid supporter of women’s rights and has fought to increase women’s role in Catholicism.
In July of this year, the Pope appointed seven women to serve in the Vatican congregation, the most powerful Catholic congregation in the world. Even though it’s estimated that up to four times as many women practice Catholicism than men, they are not represented in the religion’s leadership. Before this historic act, only one other congregation has ever had a female member.
Pope Francis has also been the most progressive Pope in regards to LGBT rights. In 2013, he spoke publicly in support of the inclusion of LGBT members in the Catholic faith. According to Pope Francis, it is the Church’s responsibility to welcome everyone, regardless of gender or sexual orientation. “If someone is gay and is searching for the Lord and has good will, then who am I to judge him?”