To show how the media constantly gets things wrong check this out: Pope Francis asks the Brazilian bishops to bring forward a proposal to ease the terrible shortage of priests in remote areas. The suggestion is that older married men–catechists or deacons–who are already ministering to outlying Catholic populations, might be ordained as priests.

These are the “viri probati” or “tested older men”. So the Daily Telegraph in London reports it with this headline: Pope Raises Prospect of Married Men Becoming Priests OK. That works. But the Tweet linking to the article proclaims, “Pope Requests Roman Catholic Priests be Given Right To Marry.”

This is why you can’t really trust the media to report on Catholic matters accurately. This is not because they are being deceitful all the time, but because much of the time they simply don’t understand. It’s ignorance not malice.

For those who are not yet fully informed on the matter, celibacy for priests is a discipline not a doctrine. That means it can be changed and exceptions can be made. Men like myself, who are married former Anglican priests can be given a dispensation from the vow of celibacy allowing us to be ordained.

What is strange in the news reporting is that one of the bishops has also suggested that women be ordained.

The cardinal’s request has been echoed by Monsignor Erwin Krautler, the secretary of the Episcopal Commission. He has also suggested that the bishops attending the synod in 2019 on the Amazon, now being prepared in Rome, should consider ordaining women deacons as priests.

This sounds fishy. I suspect a typo and the line should read “ordaining women deacons”

However it could be that Bishop Krautler does not understand the difference between a discipline of the church and a doctrine and he is pushing for women’s ordination to the priesthood. But Pope John Paul II defined quite clearly that women cannot be ordained in Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, saying, “”the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women”.

I have to admit that when I saw the name “Krautler” I did an inner eye roll and thought, “Geesh, not another German liberal bishop–one of The Marx Brothers.”

But let’s hold fire and give everyone the benefit of the doubt. The whole point of this post is that the press get it wrong. It could be that Bishop Krautler was simply calling on women to be ordained as deacons or deaconesses. This subject is one that could, theoretically, be discussed.

So it is a good lesson for all of us who are inclined more and more to rely on headlines for our information.

Don’t trust the headlines. Don’t trust the news media. If you’re upset about a headline take a deep breath and do your best to get the truth from a source as close to the story as possible.

Alternatively, mind your own business and do something really positive and creative, like going fishing.

I’ve written an awful lot of words over the years on the subject of married priests. You’ll find it at the Standing on My Head archives over at Patheos. Go here for a short article Are Married Priests the Magic Bullet? which has links to many more. This archived article explains the difference between the issue of married priests and women priests.

The archived articles from my ten years of blogging are logged at my old blog site at Patheos and they are all available free of charge. Other archived articles that I have written for other outlets are logged in the categories at the bottom of the page and are available for Donor Subscribers. Read those articles and keep this blog ad free by being a Donor Subscriber. Go here for more information.