Will the Amazon Synod Discuss Married Priests?

Will the Amazon Synod Discuss Married Priests? February 28, 2019
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Well, that depends on whom you interview and when.

This appeared yesterday, via CNS: 

The issue of married priests is something for the universal Catholic Church to discuss and is not the focus of the upcoming Synod of Bishops for the Amazon, said Peruvian Cardinal Pedro Barreto Jimeno of Huancayo.

Cardinal Barreto told Catholic News Service Feb. 26 that reducing the synod to a debate on ordaining married men of “proven virtue” — the so-called “viri probati” — distracts from “the socio-environmental problems of the Amazonian region.”

“Climate change is increasing at an exponential level compared to how humanity is trying to address it. So that is the fundamental problem,” Cardinal Barreto said. “We are not going to be discussing ‘viri probati’ or any other issue if this great problem of climate change overcomes us.”

The Peruvian cardinal was in Rome for a two-day conference sponsored by the general secretariat of the Synod of Bishop centered on the topics that will be discussed at the synod Oct. 6-27.

Cardinal Barreto said that a lack of vocations to the priesthood is a problem that is not limited to remote areas of the Amazon; it is a problem for the church around the world as the number of parishes being closed or merged demonstrates.

Nevertheless, “it isn’t the main issue,” he told CNS.

“The issue is the problem of the irrational exploitation of natural resources endorsed by some governments. I would say that money is behind it in order to use natural resources for the good of a few,” Cardinal Barreto said.

“We’re talking about a problem that concerns us all!” he said. “We cannot be distracted by other problems that, although important, are not priorities.”

But then this story popped up today in Crux: 

When the Synod of Bishops on the Amazon rolls around in October, the long-debated possibility of ordaining mature, married men to the priesthood in areas where there are priest shortages will be brought to the table, according to one Brazilian theologian.

Speaking to Crux, Jesuit Father Francisco Taborda, a professor of theology at the Jesuit university in Belo Horizonte, Brazil and an author of numerous books on the sacraments, said one of the primary pastoral challenges in the Amazon region is access to Mass, especially for indigenous populations who often live in rural areas that are difficult to reach.

“The Eucharist is central in the Christian life,” Taborda said, and lamented the fact that many communities in the Amazon only receive the Eucharist at most four times a year, which is “a very big problem.”

“There is a shortage of priests,” he said adding that this can lead “to a re-thinking of how it can be done so that every community…can have the Sunday Eucharist.”

Asked if this “re-thinking” included the ordination of so-called viri probati, meaning mature, married men who are strong in their faith and who would usually be considered as candidates to be ordained deacons, Taborda said “that’s what this is about.”

“In the final analysis, the solution that could be seen is this one,” he said, explaining that the topic will come up in the synod hall.


Stay tuned!

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