The working document for October’s Amazon Synod has continued to provoke debate, especially over the possibility of new exceptions to priestly celibacy.
The document requests that “for the most remote zones in the region, a study be made about the possibility of priestly ordination for elderly people, preferably natives, respected and accepted in their communities”. This would include married men. It would be “a means of guaranteeing the Sacraments”.
What commentators said
at his blog, the former Anglican Fr Dwight Longenecker – himself a married priest – said that priestly celibacy “is a discipline of the Church that can be changed”. He was, nevertheless, alarmed by the way the Synod was being approached. There was a lack of proper, widespread theological consultation with the wider Church. “If a whole area of the Church makes the change – let’s say the dioceses in the Amazon – you can be sure that it will spread. The change will have taken place by stealth. This is not the way change should happen in the Church. Call it the stealth synod method.”
But at Crux, John Allen said that the change was a practical one. In some dioceses around the Amazon, there was only one priest for every 17,000 people. “Also, the isolation of many rural communities in the Amazon, which are accessible only by boat or by horseback up steep mountain climbs, sometimes means they see a priest only once every few weeks, perhaps once every six months or so.” Priests were needed – hence the opening-up of the priesthood to married men.
At LifeSite, Maike Hickson observed that the working document was written by Bishop Erwin Kräutler, an outspoken critic of Catholic doctrine on the priesthood. Bishop Kräutler has, for instance, backed the ordination of women, which John Paul II confirmed was contrary to Church teaching. Meanwhile, Fr Franz Helm, an Austrian missionary priest, recently quoted Bishop Kräutler as having said: “I have not yet baptised an Indian, and I also will not do it.” Bishop Kräutler did not respond to LifeSite’s request for verification.
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