"Pope Francis is a builder of bridges, not walls", said Santos, victor of last year's Nobel Peace Prize. Additionally, Pope Francis emphasized that a priest shortage is not a reason to remove the celibacy rule.
In an interview with a German news outlet, Pope Francis addressed a variety of topics, one of those topics was the future of priesthood in the Catholic Church.
"Voluntary celibacy is not a solution", Francis said.
The church allows some exceptions to the rule.
The pope said the lack of Catholic priests was an "enormous problem" for the Church, and indicated he would be open to a change in the rules governing eligibility for the priesthood.
"We must think about whether viri probati are a possibility", Francis said, according to Agence France-Press.
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The number of priests in US church has been steadily on the decline since the 1960s.
In the interview, Francis also confirmed Colombia was on his travel itinerary for 2017, as well as India and Bangladesh. Entering the diaconate is a step on a seminarian's path to the priesthood but is also a mechanism allowing the laity to participate more fully in the celebration of Mass and in the performance of other clerical functions. There is roughly one priest for every 10,000 Catholics in this area.
Mathew Schmalz, a professor of religion at College of the Holy Cross, said that if a married Catholic man like him could become a priest, he'd be interested.
In 2013, Archbishop Pietro Parolin, before he became Vatican secretary of state, said priestly celibacy was "not part of church dogma and the issue is open to discussion because it is an ecclesiastical tradition".
The Roman Catholic Church could see a big change - for men - in the near future. Celibacy, he said, suggests to many Catholics that priests have almost superhuman spiritual gifts, to resist the normal human drive toward sexual and romantic relationships. "If so, we would need to determine what duties they could undertake, for example, in remote communities". "People have always liked pointing to their priests as somehow special people".