The Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Quebec have discussed the ordination of married men to the priesthood, but have reached no conclusions, said the Assembly’s president.
“I don’t want people to have the impression a decision was made,” said Bishop Noel Simard of Valleyfield, referring to the bishops’ meeting in March where the subject was raised. “It was the beginning of a reflection. There was no statement.”
Simard said the private but “free, open discussion” among the bishops was prompted by Pope Francis’ decision last November to open the debate whether viri probati, married men of proven faith, could be ordained under special circumstances to meet priest shortages. Pope Francis was acting on a request from Cardinal Claudio Hummes, president of the Episcopal Commission for the Amazon in Brazil, where some parts of the country have only one priest for every 10,000 Catholics.The matter will be discussed at the 2019 Synod of Bishops focusing on the pan-Amazon region.
“We decided to have among ourselves a reflection,” Simard said. “It’s a question that we need to ask, especially, what the Spirit is telling us concerning the lack and the shortage of priests, and also, do we really want new priests?”
So the question of cultivating priestly vocations in general also came up, he said.
The discussion also looked at some downsides. If the viri probati are deacons, Simard asked, should there be “super deacons?” And if deacons are ordained to the priesthood to celebrate the Eucharist and other sacraments, what will happen to their service to the poor and to charity?
“We must consider the impact on deacons,” he said.