- Dec 7, 2019
Germany’s Catholics reacted enthusiastically when bishops from across the Amazon called for the ordination of married men as priests to address the clergy shortage in that region. Such reforms have been pushed for decades by many German bishops and lay groups who hope it can lead to the liberalization of centuries of Catholic tradition.
On the heels of a bold call by Amazon region bishops for married men to become priests, Pope Francis is urging openness to new ways, and in a possible slap at conservative critics who fear he is weakening the Catholic Church’s foundations, he cautions faithful against entering the “swampy waters of ideologies.”
Judging from Friday’s reports, the Oct. 6-27 Synod on the Amazon, there’s overwhelming consensus on most points, such as Pope Francis’s call for an “integral ecology.” Yet even within that climate of basic harmony, there were also scattered notes of dissent on two hot-button questions: Married priests and women deacons.
The Synod of Bishops for the Amazon is not a “referendum” on priestly celibacy; it is looking for ways to provide for the sacramental life and formation of the people there, U.S. Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of Boston said.
One difficulty in getting those of us in the media to focus on subjects such as ecology, poverty and extractive industries in the Amazon is that it’s hard to know what the Catholic Church can really do about them.
Though he probably wouldn’t have chosen it as his battleground, in effect the debate over married priests at the 2019 Amazon synod could be Ouellet’s last hurrah, his final opportunity in a meaningful setting to make the case for tradition in a time of runaway change.