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“We need a respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas.” Pope Francis, Let us Dream, December 2020

Synod document raises possibility of married priests, roles for women

The Catholic Church must find ways to reach indigenous Catholics deprived of the sacraments in the most remote areas of the Amazon rainforest, and that may include ordaining married elders, said the working document for the Synod of Bishops on the Amazon.

‘Affirming that celibacy is a gift for the Church, in order to ensure the sacraments for the most remote areas of the region, we are asked to study the possibility of priestly ordination for elders – preferably indigenous, respected and accepted by the community – even though they have an established and stable family,’ said the document.

Published by the Vatican on 17th June, the document also said the Church should consider ‘an official ministry that can be conferred upon women, taking into account the central role they play in the Amazonian Church’.

The document, drafted after input from bishops’ conferences and local communities, acknowledged that in the Church ‘the feminine presence in communities isn’t always valued’.

Those responding to a synod questionnaire asked that women’s ‘gifts and talents’ be recognised and that the Church ‘guarantee women leadership as well as increasingly broad and relevant space in the field of formation: theology, catechesis, liturgy and schools of faith and politics’, the 45-page document said.

The synod gathering in October 2019 will reflect on the theme ‘Amazonia: New paths for the Church and for an integral ecology’.

Picture: A woman reads the Bible during a workshop in St Ignatius, Guyana, on 5th April 2019. The workshop was to help laypeople improve their reading of the Sunday Scriptures in their own languages, so they can better lead liturgies in their own indigenous communities. (CNS photo/Paul Jeffrey).