Pope Francis has said it's time for the Catholic Church to consider whether it's possible to ordain married men in order to combat the growing problem of priest
In an interview with German newspaper Die Zeit the pontiff added that although he did not think removing the celibacy rules is the answer to the priest shortage, he was open to the idea of studying whether viri probati - married men of faith - could be ordained.
"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.
The proposal to tackle the priest shortage by ordaining viri probati has been around for years but has drawn fresh attention as places in South America continue to struggle with a lack of clergy.
In Brazil the Church counts around one priest for every 10,000 Catholics.
The Pope also revealed he was planning to travel to Colombia, India and Bangladesh this year.
In his first interview with a German newspaper, Pope Francis also said he had known "moments of emptiness" where he doubted God's existence.
But he added that a crisis of faith offered believers a chance to grow.
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