Pope Francis has convened a meeting of South American bishops next year focusing on the plight of the church in the Amazon, a vast territory served by far too few priests. During that synod, the question of ordaining married men of proven virtue — so-called "viri probati" — is expected to figure on the agenda.
This week, a two-hour documentary on Italian television is likely to contribute to the conversation. "The Choice: Priests and Love" profiles more than a dozen men in four European countries who are either living clandestinely with women, have created their own unsanctioned church communities where married priests preside at Mass, or left the Catholic priesthood altogether to marry.
The documentary, to be aired Wednesday on Discovery Italia and previewed to The Associated Press, makes the case that many of these men would gladly return to the priesthood and offer their pastoral services.