VATICAN CITY—In an effort to find middle ground between liberal factions hoping to modernize the church and conservative forces seeking to preserve orthodoxy, Pope Francis issued a new decree Friday that will permanently change Roman Catholic doctrine by permitting all priests to marry him. “While we respect the vow of celibacy as a sacred choice, we hope to bring more men into the priesthood by giving them the option to participate in married life with His Holiness,” said Vatican spokesman Andrea Tornielli, clarifying that the offer of marriage would be extended to anyone actively considering a priestly vocation and willing to enroll in a seminary as soon as possible. “It has become increasingly difficult to ordain enough men for the church to function, and while we don’t want to break with a thousand years of canon law by allowing priests to marry women, we believe many will be attracted to the clerical life if they know they will still have the opportunity to join together with the Supreme Pontiff in the sacrament of holy matrimony. In fact, our internal studies show that, in recent generations, many young Catholic men have decided against becoming priests because they knew it meant they would never be able to marry the pope.” At press time, a visibly beleaguered Pope Francis quickly announced another doctrinal change that, for the first time in church history, would allow members of the Catholic faith to get divorced.
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