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Maronite Catholic: First married man ordained in the U.S. by Pope Francis

Maronite Catholic: First married man ordained in the U.S. by Pope Francis.
Maronite Catholic: First married man ordained in the U.S. by Pope Francis.
Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images

Maronite Catholic married man was allowed to be ordained into the priesthood for the first time in 100 years in the Unites States by Pope Francis. Wissam Akiki, 41, was a deacon at St Raymond's in downtown St. Louis, Missouri. According to The Denver Post on Feb. 28, the practice of ordaining married men was banned almost a century ago.

Eastern Catholic churches in the Middle East and Europe ordain married men. However, the Vatican banned the practice in America in the 1920s after Latin-rite bishops complained it was confusing for parishioners.

Maronite Catholic's ordination does not lift the ban in the U.S. and is thought to only be an exception. Randy Rosenberg, a theological studies professor at Saint Louis University concurs. Rosenberg warned against reading too much into this as an, "indication that the mandate of celibacy within Roman rite will be overturned."

Maronite Catholic followers originated in Mount Lebanon, Syria. Members of the religion can be found primarily in Lebanon, Syria, Cyprus and Israel. Marionites belong to the Maronite Syriac Church of Antioch, which is an Eastern Catholic Syriac Church and are in communication with Rome. Most Lebanese presidents have been members of this sect.

Akiki has ben married for 10 years to his wife, Manal and has an 8-year-old daughter, Perla. In the U.S. the Marionite Catholic church is headquartered in St. Louis. St. Raymond's is a co-cathedral with Our Lady Of Mt. Lebanon-St. Peter Cathedral.

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