ST. LOUIS (AP) — The new priest at St. Raymond's Maronite Cathedral in St. Louis is a married man.
Wissam Akiki was ordained Thursday night in the church that sits near downtown St. Louis. Several hundred people — including Akiki's wife and 8-year-old daughter — were on hand for the ceremony.
Eastern Catholic churches in the Middle East and Europe ordain married men. However, the Vatican banned the practice in America in the 1920s.
Pope John Paul II called for greater acceptance of Eastern Catholic traditions. Over the years, popes have made exceptions on a case-by-case basis for married men to become Eastern Catholic priests in America.
Pope Francis gave permission for Akiki to be ordained. It's considered an exception, not a policy change.