Pope Francis said he is open to the possibility of allowing married men perform priestly duties in remote areas where there are shortages of priests.
Francis doesn't believe removing the Catholic Church's celibacy rule will solve the problem; however, he is interested in studying whether "viri probati" — or married men of proven faith — could do some of the tasks of a fully ordained priest.
"We must consider if viri probati is a possibility. Then we must determine what tasks they can perform, for example, in remote communities," he said in an interview with German publication Die Zeit.
The push for "viri probati" comes from Brazilian Cardinal Claudio Hummes, who is a friend of Francis and the former head of the Vatican's office for clergy. In his country, which is largely Catholic, there is a dearth of priests. In the Amazon, for instance, the church counts one priest for every 10,000 Catholics.
Francis also stated that while he prefers a celibate priesthood, the issue is up for discussion because celibacy is technically a discipline of the church, not of dogma.