NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Catholic bishops have approved a proposal that would allow *some* married men to be ordained as priests.

The proposal, which must be approved by Pope Francis, would be a historic change to the church’s centuries-old tradition of unmarried priests.

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It applies only to some churches in the Amazon where there’s a shortage of priests.

The proposal refers to older catholic men who are already ordained as deacons in the church.

Pope Francis is expected to make a decision by the end of the year.

Back in the Tri-State Area, the proposal is being met with mixed reactions, reports CBS2’s Kiran Dhillon.

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“The question the bishops have to answer is which is more important to the Catholic Church: Having the Eucharist and the sacraments in these places or having a celibate clergy?” said Father Thomas Reese, a senior analyst with Religion News Service.

A recent CBS News poll says nearly 70% of Catholic Americans say they favor letting Catholic priests marry, with 25% opposed.


 

The Archdiocese of New York says Catholic priests could be married up until a thousand years ago. In some Catholic branches, there are married members of the clergy.

Still, it says celibacy is key for many Catholics.

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“It allows a man to fully devote himself to his calling as a priest,” said Joseph Zwilling, director of communications for the Archdiocese of New York. “It allows him to give up something we see as good, having a married family to give yourself to God and church.”