A new Vatican document suggests the possibility of married men as priests and women in leading roles in the Catholic church in the Amazon. This question has been raised by a preparatory document for a meeting of Catholic bishops from the Amazon, Reuters reports.
According to this Vatican document, there will be a synod (meeting) in October 2019 to consider ordaining elderly married men as priests and having women in some “type of official ministry,” amongst others.
The meeting will include bishops and other representatives from the nine countries of the Amazon who will gather to discuss the likelihood of ordaining “viri probati” - Latin for men of proven character in order to cope with the shortage of priests in the area.
Concerning having women in leading roles, the preparatory document says: “It is necessary to identify the type of official ministry that can be conferred on women, taking into account the central role which women play today in the Amazonian Church.”
The document adds having married priests and women in leading roles will give more access to Mass in the area of more than seven and a half million sq km (more than three million square miles).
“One of the main points to be heard is the cry of thousands of communities deprived of the Sunday Eucharist for long periods of time,” the document says.
It also notes that the Church presence in the Amazon basin “has been spread precariously thin” because of the vast territory and its cultural diversity.
The document ends with a 30-point questionnaire for Catholics in the Amazon to share their thoughts.
Possibility of having married men and women as priests
This is not the first time the issue of “viri probati” has been raised. Just last year, Pope Francis tackled the subject in an interview with a German newspaper.
According to the leader of the Roman Catholic church, he is open to the ordination of older married men in isolated communities. He was quick to add that this does not change the church’s stance on celibacy in the priesthood.
Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri also told reporters at a news conference that “The Church is not static … there is possibility of movement.”
He added, “Let’s leave the time necessary for reflection about everything that is in here.”
While the future of married men in the priesthood certainly looks bright, the same can not be said for female priests.