A proposal allowing some married men to be ordained as priests in the Amazon region has been approved by Catholic Church bishops.
The proposal that passed by a vote of 128-41, applies only to some churches in the Amazon region that are experiencing a shortage of priests.
The region includes parts of Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Peru, Suriname, and Venezuela.
The proposal, known as “viri probati,” refers to older Catholic men, who have stable families, are respected in their communities and who are already ordained as deacons in the church.
The approval also sorts to allowing married men to become priests but not allowing priests to marry, so the change would not affect the rule of celibacy for Catholic priests, who are not allowed to marry.
However, Pope Francis is expected to approve the proposal for it go into effect.
Although the Catholic Church currently only ordains unmarried men to the priesthood, some converts, from Anglicanism for example, can become Catholic priests even if they are already married.
The proposal to ordain married men was one of the most contentious recommendations voted on Saturday evening at the conclusion of a three-week-long meeting at the Vatican to discuss environmental and religious issues affecting the Amazon region.