One of the topics dominating the current three-week synod of more than 250 cardinals and bishops in Rome is whether priests should be allowed to marry. The reason behind the sudden attractiveness of this topic is that it is seen as a possible solution for the current shortage of priests. The Byzantine branch of Catholicsm has long accepted marriage finding no theological foundation for celibacy. Interestingly, among the supporters of the "married priests" solution is a Maltese bishop - Hamrun born Bishop Roberto Camilleri Azzopardi of Comayagua, Honduras. The celibacy question was not open to debate under Pope John Paul II but seems to be more acceptable under Benedict XVI. We'll wait and see shall we?
From the NYT:
"The Vatican had already signaled that the shortage of priests was a major issue surrounding the Eucharist. A working document prepared for the synod noted that in 1978, there was one priest for every 1,797 Catholics. In 2003, it was one for every 2,677 Catholics. In the United States, it is one for every 4,723 Catholics. Some church experts predict that the shortage may become worse, especially in the United States, if the Vatican releases a long-expected document on excluding homosexuals, even celibate ones, from seminaries. Liberal Catholic groups were prepared for the shortage to come to a boil in this synod. Two of the most active groups, We Are Church and Future Church, said they had collected more than a million signatures asking the church to rethink issues like mandatory celibacy and the ban on women serving as deacons, the lay members who perform many functions of a priest. The bishops themselves have made clear how deep a problem it is: On Monday, Bishop Roberto Camilleri Azzopardi of Honduras said that his diocese had only one priest for every 16,000 Catholics. "