The contentious Amazon synod has come to an end, with bishops approving a document that calls for married priests in the region, and asks for further study on the subject of women deacons.
The meeting in Rome was overshadowed by debate over a statue which was venerated at the opening ceremony: officials and Amazonian Catholics described it variously as “Our Lady of the Amazon”, as a pagan goddess, or as representing an abstraction such as fertility or life.
What the synod fathers said
Headlines focused on the synod’s recommendation of married priests, which the bishops supported by 128 votes to 41. (It needed 121 to pass; the paragraph on women deacons passed by 137 to 30.) Specifically, bishops voted for the Church to set up guidelines in the Amazon to ordain as priests “suitable and esteemed men of the community, who have had a fruitful permanent diaconate” and have “a legitimately constituted and stable family”.
One sceptical voice among the synod fathers was the Uruguayan missionary priest Fr Martín Lasarte, who wrote at AsiaNews that “the main issues associated with evangelisation were not discussed”. Instead, the issues of married priests and women deacons “used up a lot of time to the detriment of other topics”.
What commentators said
At the National Catholic Register, Mgr Charles Pope said his worries about the synod had kept him awake at night. “It is clear that the synod was stacked with liberal – even radical – members.” Ultimately, a lot will depend on the Pope’s forthcoming exhortation, Mgr Pope wrote, so we should pray for a “miraculous” papal document which does not issue revolutionary proposals.
At the Atlantic, Rachel Donadio praised the Pope as one of today’s “clearest and most humane voices”. The synod’s final document “could very well revolutionise the Church worldwide”, she wrote. At Le Figaro, Ivan Riofoul feared that the Church was “marrying the spirit of the age”. Married priests were the wrong answer, Riofoul wrote: what was needed was a new missionary effort.
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