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Former priest says ‘there would be more good leaders’ if Pope Francis allowed priests to marry

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A former Catholic priest who left the vocation to start a family says Pope Francis is “speaking the truth” when he says celibacy is not an essential element to Catholic priesthood. 

The pontiff raised eyebrows this week when he told an Argentine publication that the thousand-year-old practice in the western church is a “temporary prescription” and there is “no contradiction for a priest to marry.” 

“The Catholic Church in the United States right now is in a crisis of leadership,” Fox News contributor Jonathan Morris told “America Reports” on Wednesday. “I have worked with exceptional, exceptional pastors and Catholic priests throughout my years of priesthood. By the way, I’m still a committed Catholic, but the problem right now is that there are not enough of those exceptionally good men and I believe, while it might not be the silver bullet…allowing married men to become priests, it would put a plug in a ship that is taking on water.” 

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Pope Francis prays in front of the icon of the Madonna del Popolo, venerated by Belarusians and Ukrainians, during the general audience in the Paul VI Hall. Vatican City (Vatican), January 11th, 2023.

Pope Francis prays in front of the icon of the Madonna del Popolo, venerated by Belarusians and Ukrainians, during the general audience in the Paul VI Hall. Vatican City (Vatican), January 11th, 2023. (Grzegorz Galazka/Archivio Grzegorz Galazka/Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images)

The change could result in a larger candidate pool of priests and bishops to serve in the church. 

“In the end, we need good leaders and I think there would be more good leaders if married men were allowed to be priests,” Morris said. 

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Pope Francis and the German archbishop Georg Gaenswein, prefect of the Pontifical House, during the weekly general audience in the Paul VI Hall. Vatican City (Vatican), January 15th, 2020 (photo by Grzegorz Galazka/Archivio Grzegorz Galazka/Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images)

Pope Francis and the German archbishop Georg Gaenswein, prefect of the Pontifical House, during the weekly general audience in the Paul VI Hall. Vatican City (Vatican), January 15th, 2020 (photo by Grzegorz Galazka/Archivio Grzegorz Galazka/Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images) ((photo by Grzegorz Galazka/Archivio Grzegorz Galazka/Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images))

While Pope Francis is known to speak out on controversial issues, it is questionable if the idea will come to fruition. 

“There are Catholic priests of the Eastern rites even today who are married,” he said. “I think (Pope Francis) has talked a lot about this, but he has done nothing. It’s really interesting. He speaks a lot about controversial issues, but he’s really made no significant change on this or many other issues. He has all of the power to do so. He has all the power.” 

Fox News’ Landon Mion contributed to this report. 

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