Pope Francis does not open doors to ordination of married men
Feb. 12, 2020
In his post-synodal apostolic exhortation “Dear Amazon,” published on February 12, Pope Francis did not open the door to the possibility of ordering priests to married men to celebrate the Eucharist in remote and isolated areas of the Amazon rainforest.
After months of speculation, arising from the proposal included in the Final Document of the Synod of Bishops on the Amazon, held from October 6 to 27, 2019 in Rome, the Pontiff ruled out that possibility in Dear Amazon.
In point 111 of the Final Document of the Synod of Bishops on the Amazon, it was proposed “to establish criteria and provisions on the part of the competent authority, within the framework of Lumen Gentium 26, to ordain priests to suitable and recognized men of the community, that they have a fruitful permanent diaconate and receive adequate formation for the presbyterate, being able to have a legitimately constituted and stable family, 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”.
However, the Pontiff, at point 87 of “Dear Amazon,” notes that “That exclusive character received in the Order” enables only the priest “to preside over the Eucharist” . And stresses that “that is its specific, main and non-delegable function.”
The Pope recalls that Christ “is the head of the Church,” and points out at point 88 that “the priest is a sign of that Head who spills grace first and foremost when he celebrates the Eucharist, source and climax of all Christian life.”
“That is his great power, which can only be received in the sacrament of the priestly Order. Therefore, only he can say: “This is my body.” There are other words that only he can say: ‘I absolve you of your sins.’ Because sacramental forgiveness is at the service of a dignified Eucharistic celebration. In these two sacraments is the heart of his exclusive identity. ”
In point 89, he explained that “the laity can announce the Word, teach, organize their communities, celebrate some sacraments, seek different channels for popular piety and develop the multitude of gifts that the Spirit spills on them.”
However, “they need the celebration of the Eucharist because she‘ makes the church. ” “It is urgent to prevent the Amazonian peoples from being deprived of that food of new life and the sacrament of forgiveness.”
To meet this need, the Pope asked the Bishops, especially those in Latin America, “not only to promote prayer for priestly vocations, but also to be more generous, orienting those who show missionary vocation to opt for The Amazon”.
The Editorial Director of the Dicastery for Communication, Andrea Tornielli, in an article released by the Vatican Press Office, noted that the issue of priestly ordination of married men was discussed “for a long time and may be so even in the future.”
He pointed out that it is “a question to which the Successor of Peter, after having prayed and meditated, has decided to respond by not anticipating changes or new possibilities of exceptions to those already foreseen by the current ecclesiastical discipline, but asking to start again from the essential ”.
Cardinal Michael Czerny, Deputy Secretary of the Migrants and Refugees Section of the Department for the Integral Human Development Service and Special Secretary of the Synod of Bishops for the Panama Region, also spoke on this matter.
In an interview published in L’Osservatore Romano, Cardinal Czerny points out that the Pope recalls in his Apostolic Exhortation that “only the priest can consecrate the Eucharist and administer the sacrament of forgiveness.”
“This urgent need is at the origin of Francisco’s call to all bishops so that, in addition to praying for vocations, they are more generous in sending those who show a missionary vocation, to choose the Amazon.”
In the same way, “it is also necessary to act on a formation that is capable of dialogue with indigenous cultures. There should be many more permanent deacons, and it is necessary to further grow the role of the religious and the laity. ”
While he indicated that “the possibility of ordering married men can be discussed by the Church,” Cardinal Czerny pointed out that Pope Francis points out in his apostolic exhortation that “what is needed is a capillary presence of lay people animated with a spirit. missionary, capable of representing the true face of the Amazon Church. In this way it seems to indicate that only in this way will vocations return ”.
“The Amazon challenges us, Francisco writes, to overcome limited perspectives and not settle for solutions that remain closed in partial aspects. In other words, the big issue is a renewed experience of faith and announcement, ”he said.
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