Pope Francis has completed work on his highly anticipated response to last year’s Vatican gathering of Catholic bishops from the Amazon. Source: NCR Online.
By Joshua McElwee, NCR Online
Catholic bishops around the world are receiving a letter from the Vatican this week, advising them that the document, which may allow for the ordination of married men as Catholic priests in the nine-nation region is nearing publication. The document is also expected to lament devastating environmental destruction in the region and may detail new ministries for women in the Church.
“The draft is currently being reviewed and corrected and then needs to be translated,” states the letter, which is signed by retired Brazilian Cardinal Claudio Hummes and was obtained by NCR.
“Pope Francis hopes to promulgate it by the end of this month or in early February,” writes Cardinal Hummes, who served as the synod’s lead organiser.
Francis’ response to the October 6-27 Synod of Bishops, is among the most awaited documents of his nearly seven-year papacy. The text is expected to address a request from the 185 synod members that he allow for bishops in the Amazon region to ordain current married deacons as priests, in order to meet sacramental needs in the vast, hard-to-traverse area.
The as yet unpublished text received additional attention this week, with unexpected news that retired Pope Benedict XVI had co-authored a volume defending the Church’s practice of clerical celibacy.
Benedict’s intervention touched off fears among theologians that the former pope might be trying to tie Francis’ hands, effectively preventing the reigning Pope from approving the synod’s request.
Benedict’s personal secretary, Archbishop Georg Gänswein, has since claimed that the ailing, 92-year-old ex-pontiff did not mean to co-author the volume, and has asked that for the removal of Benedict’s name as a co-author.
Cardinal Hummes’ letter is dated January 13, the day after news of the publishing of Benedict’s book first broke.
The cardinal appears to acknowledge the unique atmosphere surrounding Francis’ coming document, suggesting to the world’s bishops that they may want to begin organising press conferences to support the release of the text.
Cardinal Hummes tells the prelates that they should expect to receive the document via email under embargo “when the day of promulgation draws near.”