Issue of married Catholic priests gains traction under pope

This week, a two-hour documentary on Italian television is likely to contribute to the conversation. “The Choice: Priests and Love” profiles more than a dozen men in four European countries who are either living clandestinely with women, have created their own unsanctioned church communities where married priests preside at Mass, or left the Catholic priesthood altogether to marry.

The documentary, to be aired Wednesday on Discovery Italia and previewed to The Associated Press, makes the case that many of these men would gladly return to the priesthood and offer their pastoral services.

Their plight has found a sympathetic ear in Francis, who has long expressed a willingness to consider “viri probati” to address pastoral needs in the Amazon. He has also expressed sympathy for priests who have made the anguished choice to leave.