VATICAN CITY (AP) — The Vatican is laying the groundwork to open formal debate on an issue that has long been taboo: opening up the priesthood to married men in parts of the world where clergy are scarce.
Pope Francis has convened a meeting of South American bishops next year focusing on the plight of the church in the Amazon, a vast territory served by far too few priests. During that synod, the question of ordaining married men of proven virtue — so-called "viri probati" — is expected to figure on the agenda.
This week, a two-hour documentary on Italian television is likely to contribute to the conversation. "The Choice: Priests and Love" profiles more than a dozen men in four European countries who are grappling with the issue in different ways.
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