Pope Francis
Pope Francis

The Vatican has announced that Pope Francis will on Feb. 12 released a document in response to a proposal to allow married men into the priesthood.

According to the announcement on Friday, the proposal is strictly limited to the Amazon region.

In October, a summit of bishops, known as a synod, had requested that married men be allowed to become priests, in order to deal with a serious shortage of clergy in the sparsely-populated South American rainforest region.

An idea that has left traditionalists outraged and worried that it could lead to the complete abolition of the celibacy rule for priests, which is not part of church dogma but has been in place since the Middle Ages.

In a so-called Apostolic Exhortation, the pope is expected to take a decision on the issue.

The Vatican said the document will be called Querida Amazonia, (Dear Amazon).

Pope Francis is also due to weigh on other issues discussed by the Amazon synod, including social justice and climate change, minority rights and the role of women in the church.