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Catholic bishops have approved a proposal allowing some married men to be ordained priests in the Amazon region, CNN has reported.

“Allowing married men to become priests is not the same thing as allowing priests to marry, so the change would not affect the rule of celibacy for Catholic priests, who are not allowed to marry,” the medium added.

The suggestion came on the heels of Catholic bishops’ gathering at a special Vatican assembly on Saturday, where they called on Pope Francis to open the priesthood to married men in the Amazon.

They also urged the Church give women a greater role to play.

The bishops also want the Pope to declare that damaging the environment a sin.

The proposal, which must be approved by Pope Francis, would be a historic change to the church’s centuries-old tradition of unmarried priests.

As reported by the CNN, the proposal passed by a vote of 128-41 and applies only to some churches in the Amazon region that are experiencing a shortage of priests.

The region includes parts of Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Peru, Suriname and Venezuela, CNN notes.

The proposal, known as “viri probati,” refers to older Catholic men, who have stable families, are respected in their communities and who are already ordained as deacons in the church.

Pope Francis must approve the proposal for it go into effect, something he said he hopes to respond to by the end of the year.

The pope has previously stated he was open to studying the possibility of allowing married men to be ordained.

The Vatican invited 184 bishops and priest from the Amazon region and around the world for the special meeting known as a synod.

Thirty-five women, mostly religious sisters and nuns, were invited but did not have voting rights.

Another proposal recommended continuing to study the possibility of ordaining women as deacons.

A commission set up by the Pope in 2016 did not result in any conclusive recommendations

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