Two of the cardinals leading the Synod of Bishops on the Amazon have made clear that the gathering will consider the idea of ordaining older married men to address the severe lack of priests across the nine-nation region. Source: NCR Online.
In a press conference to present the October 6-27 Synod, Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri and Cardinal Claudio Hummes focused on the serious implications of Catholics living without frequent access to the sacraments and the call of people in the Amazon that the Synod address the issue.
Cardinal Hummes, the retired archbishop of Sao Paulo, Brazil, who is serving as the Amazon Synod’s relator general, said that up to 80 per cent of people in the region have “a limited sacramental life.”
“Very few people receive the Eucharist and can have the celebration,” he said. To emphasise the importance of receiving Communion for a Catholic, Cardinal Hummes cited a 2003 encyclical by Pope John Paul II that said the Church “draws her life from the Eucharist.”
Cardinal Baldisseri, who heads the Vatican Synod office, affirmed that the issue would be discussed.
“It will be taken into consideration inside the assembly,” he said, citing the Synod’s working document, known as an instrumentum laboris, that brought up the request from people in the region for a discussion.
“It is in the instrumentum laboris,” Cardinal Baldisseri. said “Therefore, the Synod fathers are free to express themselves, to discuss it.”
The Church has maintained the practice of mandatory celibacy for priests for centuries, pointing to the need for ministers to be completely devoted to their work. It makes exception, however, for priests who belong to Eastern rites or who become Catholic after being ordained in other Christian traditions.
The discussion of a regional allowance for married priests in the Amazon has sparked an uproar among a conservative minority in the Church, including some cardinals.
On Wednesday, Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet, who leads the Vatican office that helps the Pope determine which priests become bishops, held an event to launch a book defending the practice of priestly celibacy.
Asked about the upcoming debate at the Synod, Cardinal Ouellet responded: “I am sceptical. And I think I’m not the only one.”