The Maronite Catholic Church in the United States has ordained a married priest for the first time in nearly a century, after Pope Francis gave his permission.
A ceremony at the ornate St. Raymond’s Maronite Cathedral in St. Louis ordained Deacon Wissam Akiki last night.
Maronites are among more than a dozen Eastern Catholic church groups in the United States. Eastern Catholics accept the authority of the pope, but have many of their own rituals and liturgy.
Eastern Catholic churches in the Middle East and Europe ordain married men. However, the Vatican banned the practice in America in the 1920s after Latin-rite bishops complained it was confusing for parishioners. But Pope John Paul II called for greater acceptance of Eastern Catholic traditions.
And over the years, popes have made exceptions on a case-by-case basis for married men to become Eastern Catholic priests in the US.
- Home Minister Rajnath Singh Assures Safety Of All Tourists Stranded On Havelock Island
- Government To Waive Service Tax On Debit, Credit Card Transactions Of Up To Rs 2,000
- President Pranab Mukherjee Criticises Parliament Disruptions Over Demonetisation
- Pakistan International Airlines Flight Carrying Over 40 Passenger On Board Crashes
- Shah Rukh Khan On Raees Clash With Kaabil: It’s Impossible To Have A Solo Release In India
- US-President Elect Donald Trump Named TIME’s Person Of The Year 2016
- O. Panneerselvam: 10 Things You Need To Know
- PM Narendra Modi Slams Opposition For Not Letting Parliament Function
- Nawazuddin Siddiqui On Working In Raees: Was Nervous To Shoot With Shah Rukh Khan
- Bathinda Dancer Murder: Video Showing Accused Opening Fire At Marriage
- 5 Lesser Known Facts About Sasikala Natarajan
- Congress Leader Shashi Tharoor’s Delhi Home Burgled: Here’s What Happened
- Reserve Bank Of India Keeps Repo Rate Unchanged Post Demonetisation
- Bigg Boss 10 Dec 06 Review: Swami Om Pees In Kitchen
- Lenovo k6 Power Video Review
“Almost half of our priests in Lebanon are married, so it’s not an unusual event in the life of the Maronite Church, though in the United States it is,” Deacon Louis Peters, chancellor at St. Raymond’s, said on Thrusday.
Peters said the pope’s action does not lift the ban on married priests in the US It is simply an exception.
Whether the decision would open the door for more married priests wasn’t clear. Experts cautioned against reading too much into it.
“This is certainly not an automatic indication that the mandate of celibacy within Roman rite will be overturned,” said Randy Rosenberg, a theological studies professor at Saint Louis University.
Akiki, 41, completed seminary studies at Holy Spirit University in Lebanon, Our Lady of Lebanon Maronite Seminary in Washington, D.C., and the Aquinas Institute of Theology in St. Louis. He has been a deacon at St. Raymond’s since 2009 and worked as the assistant to the bishop. He and his wife, Manal Kassab, have one daughter, Perla, 8.
Peters said that in the most recent Maronite Patriarchal Synod, the church reaffirmed its position in support of allowing married priests, a tradition that, worldwide, dates back centuries.
Peters said having married priests “does not in any way detract from the value that the church finds in the vocation to celibacy. The celibate priesthood continues to be highly esteemed.”