Married men might have a chance soon to preach the word of God in the Amazon as members of the Catholic Church.

Because of the rarity of having priests in remote parts of the Brazilian rainforest, Catholics in the region often go months on end without attending religious services. Estimates say that approximately one priest is available for every 10,000 Catholics in the area.

It is for this reason that the Vatican has opened up a formal debate on the subject of allowing men who are married be ordained as priests to minister to those who have no faith outlets around them and cannot attend Mass.

A working document announced the call for a study on the proposed idea and was released Monday in preparation for a fall meeting between South American bishops on the Amazon, reports Premier.

Based on regional input, the document prepared by the Vatican states that celibacy is considered a gift for the Catholic Church.

Despite this view, the proposal suggests "the possibility of priestly ordination for older men, preferably indigenous and respected and accepted by their communities, even if they have stable families, for the region's most remote areas". As celibacy is a discipline and not a doctrine, though it is preferred by the theology of the Catholic Church, it is a rule that has the ability to be changed within the Church.

The tradition has been around since the 11th century and was first imposed partially to limit costs to the Catholic Church by not requiring them to pay for large families of the priests and allowing them to gain any inheritance passed on by the priest, rather than that being distributed amongst his heirs.

The meeting to discuss the proposal will take place from October 6 to 27 and will address sacramental and environmental needs facing the Amazon. Bishops from Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Peru, Suriname, and Venezuela will be in attendance.

Bishops in Brazil, particularly, have advocated for married men to act as priests in remote parts of the Amazon.

Priest shortages have often been dealt with by the Church in this way, through the ordination of "viri probati," or married men of proven virtue. The challenge facing the Catholic Church currently regarding their ministry in the Amazon has come under this line of consideration as well due to interest in the issue by Pope Francis, who is the first Latin American pope and very familiar with the struggles of the Amazon Church.

Several members of the Church advocating for the rule to be relaxed argue that more men would be drawn to becoming ordained priests if they were also allowed to marry, which would assist in preventing further decline in priests.

Others say that the relaxation of one rule will lead to allowances in other areas.

The Vatican's document also requests that the synod call for official ministry opportunities for women. While women are already large parts of leadership within Indigenous communities, the document did withhold recommendation of women going so far as becoming ordained as deacons.

The sentiment of the document maintained that the Catholic Church must no longer simply maintain visitation to remote regions, but instead offer a full-time presence and focus on the full scope of their ministry through social services and sacraments.

It also advocated for greater Indigenous presence, including Bibles translated into various languages.