Catholic bishops from across the Amazon have called for the ordination of married men as priests to address the clergy shortage in the region.
If the historic proposal sails through, it will upend centuries of the Roman Catholic tradition.
The 180 bishops from nine Amazonian countries also called for the Vatican to reopen a debate on ordaining women as deacons, saying it was urgent for the church in the Amazon to promote and confer ministries for men and women in an equitable manner.
The proposals were contained in a final document approved on Saturday at the end of a three-week synod on the Amazon, which Pope Francis called to focus attention on saving the rainforest and better ministering to its indigenous people.
The Catholic Church, which has nearly two dozen different rites, already allows married priests in Eastern Rite churches and in cases where married Anglican priests have converted.
The celibate priesthood has been a tradition of the Latin Rite Catholic Church since the 11th century, imposed in part for financial reasons to ensure that priests’ assets pass to the church, not to heirs.
Francis told the bishops at the end of the voting that he would indeed reopen the work of a 2016 commission that studied the issue of women deacons,adding that he planned to take the bishops’ overall recommendations and prepare a document of his own before the end of the year.
Some conservatives and traditionalists have warned that any papal opening to married priests or women deacons would lead the church to ruin.
They accused the synod organizers and even the Pope himself of heresy for considering flexibility on mandatory priestly celibacy.
Francis had said he appreciated the discipline and the gift of celibacy, but that it could change, because ” it is discipline and tradition, not doctrine.”