PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Pope Francis has begun exploring the possibility of ordaining married men as priests to make up for a serious shortage in the church.
A little over a month ago, the pope began gathering information on married clergy in private meetings with Canadian bishops from eastern rite traditions – in particular, the Ukrainian Catholic Church which has allowed its clergy to marry and serve in the church for centuries.
Here in Philadelphia, the rector of the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Northern Liberties is married.
Father Roman Pitula has a wife and three children and got married while still in seminary.
Pitula says he finds it helpful to have a dual role as a married man and a priest.
“It gives you an understanding of what a family is all about, what people face, maybe in difficulties they face, so it helps a little bit to counsel them or help them in a special way.”
As to what the Roman church might do, Pitula says it’s a difficult issue.
“It’s hard to predict what can happen in the future. There are some talks and some steps, maybe proposals of Pope Francis opinions by that.”
Pitula says the Roman Catholic Church had married clergy until the 11th century and, in recent years, has admitted to the priesthood married Anglican clergy who convert to Catholicism.
Pitula says he believes God will help the pope and church authorities decide what is best for the Roman church.