The German bishops’ vice president, Bishop Franz-Josef Bode, is now announcing that the German bishops would – and should likewise – ask the pope for a special permission for the ordination of “viri probati” (married proven men to be ordained as priests) in Germany, should the pope come to allow the same for the Amazon region after the upcoming 2019 Amazon synod in Rome.
On 23 April, the German broadcaster ARD aired a documentary on the topic of a lack of priests, entitled “Church Without Priests.” In this documentary, Bishop Bode made some important statements with regard to the topic of the ordination of some select married men to the priesthood. The German bishops’ news website Katholisch.de reports on his words. According to this report, Bode “expects that the German bishops will ask the Vatican for the admittance of some married priests to the priesthood” should Pope Francis “approve next year of the ordination of ‘viri probati‘ for the Amazon region.” According to the Katholisch.de article, Bishop Bode added that, should there be such a possibility somewhere else in the world, and should this even be fundamentally possible, then it should be possible in situations “where the need is different, but at the same time also great.” The German bishop explained also that there might be different reasons for such a admittance of “viri probati” to the priesthood, but, still, “we have to ask for it, too. That is very clear.”
These statements are coming in the wake of a larger controversy which Bishop Bode had started at the beginning of 2018 when proposing to bless homosexual couples. Several high-ranking prelates, among them Cardinal Gerhard Müller, Archbishop Charles Chaput and Cardinal Paul Josef Cordes, subsequently raised their voices of opposition with the effect that Cardinal Reinhard Marx, the German bishops’ president – who had first himself endorsed such an idea – made a step backwards in this matter, saying that so far there is only a commission set up to discuss the matter of the pastoral care for homosexuals in the Church.
Bishop Bode himself had already in 2017 promoted the idea of admitting married priests to the priesthood. His own Diocese of Osnabrück did not have even one newly ordained priest last year, and so he raised the question “as to whether the priesthood and celibacy always need to be connected with one another.” Concerning the lack of priests in his own diocese, Bode then further explained it with the “different changes in society.”
Bode is the bishop of Osnabrück since 1995 and has been elected Vice President of the German Bishops’ Conference in September of 2017.
Dr. Maike Hickson, born and raised in Germany, studied History and French Literature at the University of Hannover and lived for several years in Switzerland where she wrote her doctoral dissertation. She is married to Dr. Robert Hickson, and they have been blessed with two beautiful children. She is a happy housewife who likes to write articles when time permits.
Her articles have appeared in American and European journals such as Catholicism.org, LifeSiteNews, The Wanderer, Culture Wars, Catholic Family News, Christian Order, Apropos, and Zeit-Fragen.