Last Year, Pope Francis Ruled Against A Proposal That Was Approved By A Synod Of 184 Catholics Bishops Which States That Older Married Men Can Become Priests As A Way To Deal With A Shortage Of Clerics In Places Such As The Amazon.
What We Know:
- On Wednesday, Pope Francis delivered his speech in an Apostolic Exhortation three months after the proposal passed the contentious Vatican assembly or synod vote. Apostolic Exhortations are used to instruct and encourage but not define the church doctrine.
- This measure was strongly opposed by conservatives. The reason is because this was considered to be the first step to removing the rule of celibacy upon ordination to the priesthood. Although others feel that the church is realizing the reality and the demands of the faithful, the conservatives are calling this a threat to the priesthood.
- According to Reuters, Bishops in Latin American put in the recommendation last year, and it proposed the ordination be given to older married deacons with stable families and leadership experience. While deacons, such as priests are able to preach and perform baptisms and run parishes.
- The pope ended up siding with the conservatives by not endorsing the proposals in his teaching in the Amazon. He said the shortage of priests was only part of the larger picture and it needs to be addressed by encouraging more missionaries in the remote region.
- The Vatican said in a statement, “Pope Francis urges all the bishops, especially those in Latin America, ‘to be more generous’ in encouraging those who ‘display a missionary vocation’ to choose the Amazon region and invites them to evaluate formation to the priesthood.”
- Cardinal Michael Czerny special secretary of the Synod for the Amazon also added: “what is needed is new life in the communities, a new missionary impetus, new lay services, ongoing formation, boldness, and creativity. What is needed is a presence at the local level of laypeople who are animated by a missionary spirit and capable of representing the authentic face of the Amazonian church.”
Conservatives including Pope Benedict opposed the proposal. Pope Benedict who co-wrote a book about defending priestly celibacy, has since distanced himself from the book after it’s been published. The Vatican said Pope Francis wrote the Exhortation before the book was published.