US Maronite Catholics to ordain 1st married priest

ST. LOUIS (AP) — The Maronite Catholic Church in the United States is about to ordain its first married priest.

A Maronites' spokesman in St. Louis says Pope Francis gave his permission for married Deacon Wissam Akiki to be ordained. The ceremony is set for Thursday.

Maronites are among more than a dozen Eastern Catholic church groups in the United States. Eastern Catholics accept the authority of the pope, but have many of their own rituals and liturgy.

Maronites overseas ordain married men. But the practice was banned in the U.S. in the 1920s. The U.S. Maronites' spokesman says the pope made an exception in this case and didn't lift the ban.

Popes have made exceptions before for other traditions, including for married Anglican clergy who have joined the Catholic Church.

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