Pope Francis has sidestepped the request for married men to be ordained as priests and women to be ordained as deacons as a way of addressing the shortage of clergy in South Americas Amazon region. Bishops backed the measure at a three week Synod of 184 Bishops last October at the Vatican that included countries from the Amazon region, Brazil and Bolivia to Colombia and Venezuela, but the decision needed the Pope’s approval to be implemented.
The popes response came Wednesday in the form of a document titled “Querida Amazonia” or Dear Amazon and in it he deflected many of the core issues about ordaining men as priests and women as deacons and urged bishops to pray for more priestly vocations and to encourage those who want to become missionaries to opt for regions where faithful Catholics in remote areas can go months or even years without Mass.
Catholic priests are required to uphold their celibacy upon ordination except in cases where married Anglican ministers have converted as its is seen as the devotion of one’s life to God.
The conservative wing of the Catholic Church – particularly in Europe and North America – has spoken out against the idea of married priests, arguing that this could lead to the global abolition of celibacy.
A statement from the Vatican said: “The Amazon challenges us, the Pope writes, to overcome limited perspectives and not to content ourselves with solutions that address only part of the situation.”