Married dad becomes Maronite Catholic priest in US

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Associated Press

Posted on February 28, 2014 at 4:01 AM

Updated Friday, Feb 28 at 4:03 AM

ST. LOUIS (AP) — For the first time in nearly a century, a married priest has been ordained by the Maronite Catholic Church in the United States.

The ceremony Thursday night for Wissam Akiki was witnessed by hundreds of supporters — including his wife and daughter — in St. Louis.

Maronites are among more than a dozen Eastern Catholic church groups in the U.S. that accept the pope's authority but have many of their own rituals and liturgy.

Eastern Catholic churches in the Middle East and Europe ordain married men. The Vatican banned the practice in America in the 1920s, after Latin-rite bishops complained it was confusing parishioners, but Pope John Paul II called for greater acceptance.

Over the years, popes have made exceptions. Pope Francis gave permission for Akiki to be ordained.

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