Vatican City — Pope Francis rejected Wednesday to allow the ordination of married men and women deacons in the Amazon.
Last year, the Pope called for “bold proposals” to meet the spiritual needs of the Catholic Church in the Amazon, a broad region with a shortage of clerics.
However, in an eagerly-awaited document that was released Wednesday, Pope Francis ignored the boldest one: allowing the ordination of married men to become priests. Ignoring the recommendations of the Amazonian bishops.
The Pope’s Querida Amazonia (Beloved Amazon) only focuses mostly on environmental and cultural issues.
A love letter to its indigenous people and the Amazonian rainforest, penned by history’s first Latin American pope.Pope Francis has been concerned about the violent exploitation of the Amazon’s land for a long time, its crucial importance to the global ecosystem and the injustices committed against its people.
Instead, he urged bishops to send missionaries to the vast region and pray for more priestly vocations, where the faithful living in remote areas can go for months or years without a Mass.
The 32-page document has lots of poetry but offers few pragmatic changes for the church.
The lack of an opening for women deacons and married priests is anticipated to disappoint the Pope’s liberal supporters, particularly in Europe and America.
Francis ignored suggestions that ordaining women to any ministry would serve the church. While acknowledging that women should have governance roles and bigger decision-making, Pope Francis argued that women must find “other forms of service and charisms that are proper to them.”
“Such a reductionism would lead us to believe that women would be granted a greater status and participation in the Church only if they were admitted to Holy Orders,” the Pope writes.
Just a few days before Querida Amazonia’s publication, Archbishop John Wester of Santa Fe, New Mexico spoke to the Pope in a private meeting together with other US bishops about the document. He said to Catholic News Service that Pope Francis’ own reason for why he wasn’t agreeing to the bolder proposals was that the Pope discerned that it wasn’t the moment for change.
As the Archbishop quotes the Pope: “I don’t even think at this point that it’s something we’re going to move on because I haven’t sensed that the Holy Spirit is at work in that right now,”
Another bishop also participated in the private meeting, Bishop Oscar A. Solis of Salt Lake City. He told CNS that his impression was that Pope Francis was leaving the door open for future decisions.