February 21, 2020 - 16:19 AMT
Catholic Armenian bishop thanks pope for lifting ban on married priests

Pope Francis “is a father who knows very well his daughters and sons,” including those who belong to the Eastern Catholic churches, the Armenian Catholic bishop of the United States and Canada has said, according to the Catholic News Service.

Bishop Mikael A. Mouradian of the California-based Armenian Catholic Eparchy of Our Lady of Nareg was one of 15 bishops from eight Eastern Catholic churches who spent close to three hours conversing with Pope Francis Feb. 20.

The meeting was part of the bishops’ “ad limina” visits to Rome to report on the status of their eparchies or dioceses. They were the last group of U.S. bishops to complete the visits, which are required regularly of every bishop in the world.

Mouradian had made an “ad limina” visit in 2012, meeting with Pope Benedict XVI. Both popes “were very fraternal” and very much teachers, but Pope Francis’s advice and counsel came from a place “much more near to the heart,” the bishop said.

The Armenian bishop and other priests thanked Pope Francis for his decision in 2014 to lift an 85-year-old Vatican ban on ordaining married priests for the Eastern Catholic churches outside their traditional homelands where married priests are common.

“I ordained my first married priest two years ago,” the bishop said. “He is our first American-born vocation to the priesthood, and he’s doing an amazing job.”