A historic shift in policy could pave the way for married men to preach in areas where clergy are scarce. The requirement for priests to have never been married has been in place for centuries.
An Amazon synod of bishops are set to discuss the possibility of allowing married men in remote areas to become priests.
A document from the Vatican, which was made public on Monday, outlines the ordination of married men will be under discussion at a convention in October.
The meeting will also review a form of "official ministry" for women, although it did not give further details. The possibility of opening its ministry to females would also be exclusively for the Amazon region.
The script details the possibility of ordaining what the church calls "viri probati" — Latin for men of proven maturity and moral character — as a result of a lack of priests in the region. The potentials would be elderly, and could be appointed "even if they already have an established and stable family, in order to guarantee the sacraments that accompany and sustain Christian life."
The document added: "While affirming that celibacy is a gift for the Church, there have been requests that, for the most remote areas of the region, the Church studies the possibility of conferring priestly ordination on elderly men, preferably indigenous, respected and accepted members of their communities."
In 2017, Pope Francis indicated he was open to the idea of older married men joining the priesthood. He said, though, that celibacy was an essential practice among the clergy.
The church has been struggling of late to recruit sufficient priests to serve all of its parishes. According to a 2015 study, between the years 1980 and 2012 the world's population of Catholics rose by 445 million. At the same time, the number of priests fell by 20,547.
jsi/rt (AFP, Reuters)