Σάββατο, 26 Οκτωβρίου 2019

AMAZON SYNOD CALLS FOR MARRIED PRIESTS, POPE TO REOPEN WOMEN DEACONS COMMISSION



Pope Francis attends the final session of the Synod of Bishops for the Amazon Oct. 26 at the Vatican. Also pictured are Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, secretary-general of the Synod of Bishops, and Cardinal Claudio Hummes, relator general of the synod. (CNS/Paul Haring)
Vatican City — The Vatican gathering of Catholic bishops from the Amazon has called on Pope Francis to allow for the priestly ordination of married men on a regional basis in order to address a lack of ministers across the nine-nation region.
Check out our latest news from the Synod for the Amazon in Rome.
And after the 185 male prelates at the monthlong Synod of Bishops said in their final document that the idea of ordaining women as deacons had been "very present" during their discussions, Francis announced he will be summoning his commission on the issue back to work, and adding new members to its ranks. 
"I am going to take up the challenge … that you have put forward, that women be heard," the pontiff said in spontaneous remarks after close of the synod's business Oct. 26.
The dual announcements regarding possible new openings for Catholic ministry came at the end of an Oct. 6-27 gathering that focused on the serious threats facing both the Amazon Basin and the people who have protected and called it home for centuries. 
In the final document, released shortly after the pope's remarks Oct. 26, the bishops put forth a series of proposals to address both the rainforest and its people, including defining ecological sin and calling for the church across the Amazon to divest from extractive industries that harm the planet.
The proposals are part of a 33-page text that was the fruit of intense discussion among the prelates and 80 lay auditors at the synod gathering, and an extraordinary level of outside attention and criticism during the monthlong process.
Setting forth the proposed definition of "ecological sin," the synod participants describe it as "an action or omission against God, against others, the community and the environment."
"It is a sin against future generations and manifests itself in acts and habits of pollution and destruction of the environmental harmony, transgressions against the principles of interdependence and the breaking of solidarity networks among creatures and against the virtue of justice," they state.
Pope Francis attends the final session of the Synod of Bishops for the Amazon Oct. 26 at the Vatican. (CNS/Paul Haring)
Although the discussions leading to the final document of the synod took place behind closed doors, it is known that the synod bishops — primarily from the Amazon, but also from other regions of the world — submitted hundreds of proposed amendments to the first version of the text.
Several unconfirmed reports said the first draft, presented at the synod Oct. 21, had been subject to some 800 amendments, an extraordinarily high number.
In past synods, changes to draft texts have sometimes come about in an effort to ensure the documents pass the vote threshold for their approval, which is two-thirds of the synod members present at the time of the tally.
Voting on the 2019 document took place late Oct. 26, with the prelates giving each paragraph of the text a simple yes or no. All of the 120 paragraphs of the document were adopted by the assembly with the required two-thirds: 120 members of the 181 present for the voting.
The closest margin came on the paragraph calling on Francis to consider priestly ordination of married men, which received 128 yes votes and 41 no votes. The second closest came on the paragraph dealing with the discussion on women deacons, which received 137 yes votes and 30 no votes.
Ministry of married men and women emerged as key topics early in the synod, with many of the participants focusing on the need for the church to find a way to be more present in the Amazon's rural, hard-to-traverse areas. 
Before bringing up the issue of married priests, the synod final text makes a number of references to the importance of the Eucharist in Catholic life. It cites Second Vatican Council documents as well as John Paul II's 2003 encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia, which states: "The church draws her life from the Eucharist."
"There is a right of the community to the celebration, which derives from the essence of the Eucharist and its place in the economy of salvation," says the synod text.
Continuing to their request of Francis, the bishops suggest the pope allow for current married permanent deacons to be ordained as priests, in order to "sustain the life of the Christian community through the preaching of the Word and the celebration of the Sacraments in the most remote areas of the Amazon region."
Possible candidates for the married priesthood, the bishops say, should "have a fruitful diaconate [and] … receive adequate formation for the presbyterate, while having a legitimately constituted and stable family."
In the area of women's ministry, the final text says that the synod bishops recognize the "ministeriality" that Jesus entrusted to women.
The document also notes that Francis' study commission on women deacons, which the pope created in 2016 following a request from the umbrella group representing the world's Catholic sisters and nuns, did not come to a final conclusion on the matter.
The pontiff gave a report from the commission back to the umbrella group, known as the International Union of Superiors General, in May. The report has not been released publicly.
The commission, the synod document says, "came to a partial result on what the reality of the women's diaconate was like during the first centuries of the church and its implications today."
"We would like to share our experiences and reflections with the Commission and look forward to its results," says the text.
Pope Francis leaves the final session of the Synod of Bishops for the Amazon Oct. 26 at the Vatican. (CNS/Paul Haring)
Francis appeared to be referring to this portion of the text in his off-the-cuff remarks at the end of the voting process.
"I am going to try to reconvene this [commission] with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and appoint new people in this commission and take up the challenge," the pope promised the synod bishops.
"What is said in the document falls short of what the woman is; in the transmission of faith, in the preservation of culture," said the pontiff.
In a section of the final document prior to the focus on women's "ministeriality," the synod bishops say they consider it "urgent" for the church to "promote and confer ministries for men and women in an equitable manner."
"It is the Church of baptized men and women that we must strengthen by promoting ministeriality and, above all, the awareness of baptismal dignity," they state.
The synod members also make a point to note that a bishop has wide authority in his diocese to entrust any person, man or woman, with ecclesial responsibilities.
"In the absence of priests in the community, the Bishop may entrust, for a specific period of time, the exercise of pastoral care of the community to a person not invested with the priestly character who is a member of the community," they state.
"The Bishop may constitute this ministry on behalf of the Christian community with an official mandate through a ritual act so that the person responsible for the community may also be recognized at the civil and local levels," they continue.
This breaking news story is being updated.
[Joshua J. McElwee is NCR Vatican correspondent. His email address is jmcelwee@ncronline.org. Brian Roewe is an NCR staff writer. His email address is broewe@ncronline.org.]