Pope Francis has signed off on a married man’s decision to join the priesthood in the Maronite Catholic Church.
Deacon Wissam Akiki, of St. Louis, Mo., who is married and has a daughter, was expected to be ordained on Thursday night, in a the Maronite church. The sect of the Eastern Catholic Christianity originated in the fifth century in what is now modern-day Lebanon.
While married priests are common within in the Maronite Catholic Church overseas, says St. Raymond’s Chancellor Louis Peters, marriage for religious leaders was banned in the U.S. in the 1920s.
According to the church’s American spokesperson, the Pope did not reverse the ban but merely made an exception for Akiki.