There is a supposed bombshell that Pope Francis will allow bishops to decide if married men can become priests. Please note the distinction, he isn't saying priests will allow to marry, but that men already married may become priests.
Now before the Pope Francis haters (neo-Protestant Catholics/neo-christians) start their diatribes about our pope, it should be made known that all the way back in the 1950's Pope Pius XII allowed some married Lutheran ministers in Sweden to become Catholic priests when they desired full communion with the Catholic Church. Yes, Pope Pius XII authorized it.
Of course, soon to be Saint Pope John Paul II in his "Pastoral Provision" of 1981 allowed Episcopal/Anglican priests who were disaffected with the Anglican Communion over the ordination of women and heterodox beliefs to become priests. That's how I got my married priest at The Church of the Most Holy Trinity in Augusta, Georgia. His name was Father Daniel Munn. He died around 2006 I believe.
The Church of the Most Holy Trinity is/was a conservative parish, but Fr. Munn was completely embraced. Often times his wife Jan would be a lector at the Mass he was celebrating and he would refer to her and his many children and grandchildren in his homilies. Sometimes I would have to assure perplexed visitors that the Mass they had just attended was indeed a Roman Catholic Mass, that they had not wandered by mistake into some schismatic Catholic parish or Anglican Catholic Church.
The Diocese of Savannah has two married priests to this day, both in Augusta, one at St. Ignatius of Antioch Greek Catholic Church and the other a former married Anglican bishop at St. Mary on the Hill Catholic Church. One other Augusta married priest, former Episcopal, is now living in Atlanta.
Of course, Pope Benedict took Blessed Pope John Paul II's Pastoral Provision to a new level with the unprecedented creation of the Anglican Ordinariate. In this canonical structure, married Anglican/Episcopal Bishops who become Catholic are allowed to be administrators of these Ordinariates. Married men cannot become bishops even in the Orthodox Church which has always allowed married men to be priests. Only celibate men, usually from monastic communities, are called to be bishops. But Pope Benedict allows these now married former bishops of the Anglican Communion to retain much of the authority of a bishop as an "Apostolic Administrator." They are made the highest form of monsignor, may use the pectoral cross, crozier and miter during liturgies.
And now there is a rumor, true or not, that Pope Francis may kick it up a notch again. To think, married Catholic men, already in full communion with the Church, with valid Confirmation and attending valid Masses all their lives and valid confessions, might be allowed to be ordained as married Catholic priests.
Yes, that is the difference! Under all the popes I mentioned, only married Protestant men, only validly baptized, but never validly confirmed, never celebrating a valid Holy Eucharist, never having been validly ordained to anything, never having been to a valid Confession, but yes, validly married, could be ordained as married Catholic priests. How weird is that?????
But completely Roman Catholic married men, validly baptized, confirmed, receiving valid Holy Communion and the other valid sacraments of the Church could not/cannot be ordained as married Catholic priests. How weird is that????
Also, keep in mind that those Eastern Rite Catholic Church, such as Melkite, Maronite, etc, completely in union with Rome have always allowed for married men to become priests in the similar fashion of the Eastern Orthodox Churches. Of course only celibate men in the eastern rites may become bishops, usually from monastic communities.
This is what is being reported by "The Tablet" which is the English counterpart to the National Chismatic Reporter (NCR):
From The Tablet in London:
A bishop who met with Pope Francis in a rare private audience on 4 April has said in an interview that the two men discussed the issue of the ordination of “proven” married men – viri probati – in a serious and positive way.
Bishop Erwin Kräutler, Bishop of Xingu in the Brazilian rainforest, spoke to the Pope about Francis’ forthcoming encyclical on the environment, and the treatment of indigenous peoples but the desperate shortage of priests in the bishop’s huge diocese came up in the conversation. According to an interview the Austrian-born bishop gave to the daily Salzburger Nachrichten on 5 April, the Pope was open-minded about finding solutions to the problem, saying that bishops’ conferences could have a decisive role.
“I told him that as bishop of Brazil’s largest diocese with 800 church communities and 700,000 faithful I only had 27 priests, which means that our communities can only celebrate the Eucharist twice or three times a year at the most,” Bishop Kräutler said. “The Pope explained that he could not take everything in hand personally from Rome.
We local bishops, who are best acquainted with the needs of our faithful, should be corajudos, that is ‘courageous’ in Spanish, and make concrete suggestions,” he explained. A bishop should not act alone, the Pope told Kräutler. He indicated that “regional and national bishops’ conferences should seek and find consensus on reform and we should then bring up our suggestions for reform in Rome,” Kräutler said.
Asked whether he had raised the question of ordaining married men at the audience, Bishop Kräutler replied: “The ordination of viri probati, that is of proven married men who could be ordained to the priesthood, came up when we were discussing the plight of our communities. The Pope himself told me about a diocese in Mexico in which each community had a deacon but many had no priest. There were 300 deacons there who naturally could not celebrate the Eucharist. The question was how things could continue in such a situation.Read more.
“It was up to the bishops to make suggestions, the Pope said again.”