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Pope Francis rules against married clergy and women as deacons in the Amazon

Pope Francis has ruled against ordaining married men in the Amazon as a means of addressing the region’s priest shortage.

Bishops had previously backed the measure last year but had to wait for the Holy Father’s approval to be implemented.

In a statement released by the Vatican on Wednesday February 12, the Pope confirmed he would not change the status quo.

The statement said: “The Amazon challenges us, the Pope writes, to overcome limited perspectives and not to content ourselves with solutions that address only part of the situation.”

 

Vocations

Pope Francis said there was a need for ministers who can understand Amazonian sensibilities and cultures from within, as he urged bishops to ‘promote prayer for priestly vocations’ and to encourage those who want to become missionaries to ‘opt for the Amazon region.’

At last year’s Amazon Synod in October, 184 bishops met at the Vatican to discuss the Church’s future in the region.

Some of the delegate bishops had stated that older, married men should be allowed to be ordained as priests in order to address the region’s shortage, on the grounds that the men were respected and would hail from indigenous communities where they intend to work.

Many Catholics across the world feared this could eventually lead to the abolition of priestly celibacy.

 

Gift of celibacy 

The response to the Pope’s announcement not to allow married men to become Catholic priests was largely met with positivity throughout the Church, though a number of liberal Catholics would be disappointed , the Pope said ahead of its release.

The Pope has previously stated his support for priestly celibacy. In January 2019, he said: “I think celibacy is a gift to the Church. I would say that I do not agree with allowing optional celibacy, no.” Pope Francis also revealed he would not allow women to serve as deacons.

He wanted the focus of ‘Querida Amazonia’ to be on the social, pastoral, ecological and cultural challenges facing the Amazon region.

 

ecological issues

Pope Francis said the Amazon’s ecological problems should not be separated from social problems, stating indigenous people have been forced from their homes due to illegal deforestation and mining to the outskirts of cities marked by ‘an increase in xenophobia, sexual exploitation and human trafficking.’

“We need to feel outrage, as Moses did, as Jesus did, as God does in the face of injustice. It is not good for us to become inured to evil,” he wrote.

“The businesses, national or international, which harm the Amazon and fail to respect the right of the original peoples to the land and its boundaries, and to self-determination and prior consent, should be called for what they are: injustice and crime.”

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