“Why not?”, the new cardinal from Luxembourg, Jean-Claude Hollerich, has said with regard to married priests in the Catholic Church.

Driving the news

Hollerich, the Jesuit Archbishop of Luxembourg, was speaking on the subject Friday, one day before he received the red hat from Pope Francis in a ceremony in St. Peter’s Basilica.

In a press conference in Rome, the new cardinal referred to the proposal currently before the Amazon Synod to ordain to the priesthood so-called viri probati, married Catholic “men of proven virtue” with experience of service to their communities.

The viri probati solution is one possible answer to the shortage of priests in the Amazon, which in turn means a shortage of Masses.

“If there [in the Amazon] viri probati are a solution, why not?”, said Hollerich.

The Jesuit is participating in the Amazon Synod at the personal invitation of Pope Francis.


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Go deeper

To shore up his case, Hollerich cited the examples of Eastern Catholic priests, who can marry, and Anglican married ministers who convert and become Catholic priests, bringing their families with them.

Neither Eastern nor Anglican Catholic priests are an affront to the Catholic theology of priesthood, the new cardinal observed.

The 61-year-old Hollerich also pointed out the richness of the different perspectives married men bring to ordained life.

“I love my celibacy, I stand by it, but I see that the married deacons can preach differently than I do, and that in itself is a wonderful addition”, the new cardinal said.

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For the record

Hollerich said his elevation to the College of Cardinals doesn’t amount to a personal recognition bestowed upon him by the Pope.

“I’m no better than anyone else”, the Jesuit insisted.

Rather, Hollerich said his new red hat amounts to Francis’ “appreciation for Luxembourg and also for the COMECE, the commission of the episcopal conferences of the EU”, of which he is the chairman.

In comments published by COMECE, Hollerich continued:

“The elevation to the cardinalate is not so much a reward for myself, but an encouragement to continue and to reinforce the work we are doing as a Church of mercy and charity to all the people who are in need, regardless of their origin or their religion”.

Next on Novena:

Eight quotes to know and share from Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich


PhD in ancient Jewish/Christian history and philosophy. University ethics lecturer with 4 years' experience in religion journalism.