November 28, 2011
Bishop Nicholas Samra

Bishop Nicholas Samra

To address a shortage of priests in his nationwide eparchy, the Melkite Catholic bishop of Newton, Mass., is exploring the possibility of ordaining married men as priests.

Bishop Nicholas Samra notes that of the 40 parishes in his diocese, eight have no resident priest.

While the answer is more priests, the question is how to get them.

The strategy Samra prefers is to develop priests from within the diocese rather than ask Melkite Catholic bishops from the Middle East, where the rite has its roots, to supply priests.

Samra made his views clear during an address he gave Aug. 23, the date of his installation as bishop.

"God calls men and women to religious vocations.

And I believe he also calls married men to the priesthood," he said.

In a Nov. 9 telephone interview with Catholic News Service, Samra said his comments should not provoke any surprise at the Vatican.