St_Peter's_Square,_Vatican_City_-_April_2007

Vatican lifts ban on married priests for Eastern Catholics in diaspora

by Laura Ieraci  |  published on November 18, 2014


The Vatican has lifted its ban on the ordination of married men to the priesthood in Eastern Catholic churches outside their traditional territories, including in the United States, Canada and Australia.

Pope Francis approved lifting the ban, also doing away with the provision that, in exceptional cases, Eastern Catholic bishops in the diaspora could receive Vatican approval to ordain married men. In recent years, however, some Eastern Catholic bishops went ahead with such ordinations discreetly without Vatican approval.

Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for the Eastern Churches, signed the decree June 14. It was published later online in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis, the official periodical through which Vatican laws and decisions are published.

The new law says the pope concedes to Eastern Catholic bishops outside their traditional territory the faculties to “allow pastoral service of Eastern married clergy” and “to ordain Eastern married candidates” in their eparchies or dioceses, although they must inform the local Latin-rite bishop in writing “in order to have his opinion and any relevant information.”

“We are overjoyed with the lifting of the ban,” Melkite Bishop Nicholas Samra of Newton, Mass., told Catholic News Service in a Nov. 15 email.

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