For First Time in 100 Years, Pope Francis Allows Married Man to Be Ordained as Catholic Priest

That’s Good — It’s About Time! Let Those Priests Marry Those Nuns so They Can Do the “Bunga-Bunga” Together and Leave the Precious Children Alone.

Deacon Wissam Akiki, right -- with his wife Manal Kassab and daughter Perla -- will be ordained as a priest this week at St. Raymond's Maronite Cathedral in St. Louis. (Photo: Courtesy of St. Raymond's Maronite Cathedral)
Deacon Wissam Akiki, right — with his wife Manal Kassab and daughter Perla — will be ordained as a priest this week at St. Raymond’s Maronite Cathedral in St. Louis.
(Photo: Courtesy of St. Raymond’s Maronite Cathedral)

In a move that could open the doors for more wedded priests in some Catholic churches across the USA, a married Maronite deacon will be ordained Thursday as a priest in St. Louis.

Deacon Wissam Akiki, who serves St. Raymond’s Maronite Cathedral, will be the first married Maronite Catholic in the United States to become a priest, said Bishop Elias Zaidan of the Maronite Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon of Los Angeles, which has its headquarters in Missouri.

“In the Middle East, it is normal (for a priest) to be married,” Zaidan said Tuesday. “Here, this is the first.”

The Maronite church is one of several Eastern Rite churches — including Armenian, Chaldean and some Byzantine Catholics — that recognize the authority of the pope in Rome. Many Maronite Christians in the U.S. trace their lineage to present-day Lebanon and Syria.

Although Roman Catholic priests are not allowed to marry, Catholic priests who married before they were approved for ordination are allowed to remain married. An example: Catholic priests who were converts from the Anglican communion and other Protestant denominations.

“The Vatican was open to it on a case-by-case basis,” said Zaidan, and Pope Francis approved Akiki’s ordination, which was in the pipeline for about a year.

William Ditewig, executive professor of theology at Santa Clara University in California, said Pope John Paul II opened the door for this possibility decades ago in his encyclical calling for the traditions of the Eastern churches to be respected.

“I’m reluctant to project too much too fast” for the Roman Catholic church and the future of married priests, said Ditewig, who also works for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Monterey. “I think this is interesting and significant, but I don’t necessarily think it is earth shattering.”

Akiki has been a deacon at his St. Louis Maronite church for nearly a decade and has been married for 10 or 11 years, the bishop said.

Akiki could not be reached for comment. He is married to Manal Kassab, and they have a daughter, Perla.

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SOURCE: Linda Dono
USA TODAY