The head of the German Catholic aid agency Misereor has denied ultraconservative ‘fake news’ reports that the German bishops are funding the Amazon Synod simply to push through married priests and women deacons.

Driving the news

The National Catholic Register reported July 19 that Misereor and its sister development agency Adveniat “have provided substantial funding” for October’s Amazon Synod.

Register Rome correspondent Edward Pentin called the Synod “controversial”.

His reasons included an apparent “clear push” on the part of Synod organisers “to ordain married men of proven virtue but without seminary formation, ostensibly to address a shortage of priests in the Amazon region (critics see this as a means to force an end to mandatory Latin Rite priestly celibacy through the back door)”.

Pentin also mentioned concerns over the Synod working document’s “treatment of ecological issues and its distortions of inculturation”. Along with its proposal “to ‘reconsider’ the linking of Church authority with her sacramental, judicial and administrative duties, especially holy orders”.

The Synod working document also “speaks of an ‘official ministry’ to be conferred on women”, warned Pentin.

Novena takes down the ‘fake news’ on the Amazon Synod:

Conservatives push ‘fake news’ on German Amazon Synod funding

Kasper slams “completely absurd” reports of secret Amazon Synod meeting

The big picture

Misereor head Pirmin Spiegel told Dom Radio, however, that far from pushing married priests and women deacons that the purpose of the Amazon Synod is “to highlight the importance that the region has for the global climate, the economy and the people who live there”.

“The way of life of indigenous peoples is the best and most sustainable one can imagine”, said Spiegel, himself a former Amazon missionary.

“For centuries they have been living a lifestyle that respects the limits of their living space. This has been proven scientifically and therefore, when decisions are made about the primeval forest, the wisdom of these peoples must also be listened to”, affirmed Spiegel.

The intrigue

“The synod focuses on the Amazon region”, emphasised Spiegel, explaining that the Amazon “has different challenges and a different Church history than we have here in Germany”.

“In that sense, I think that you can’t simply transfer our questions”, continued the priest, criticising the way the Synod has been “instrumentalized” from the point of view of German and Western interests.

Spiegel said he is convinced the results of the Amazon Synod could “inspire” the German “synodal path”, “but always on the premise that solutions found there cannot be copied”.

More on the Amazon Synod on Novena:

German Jesuit blasts Cardinal Brandmüller for “sad” Amazon Synod criticisms

What’s next

Spiegel emphasised that although the Amazon Synod will discuss married priests and women deacons, the meeting will focus both on these “new ways for the Church” and on “new ways for a holistic ecology”.

“I hope that in the Synod these issues will be honestly discussed and we will come up with results that meet the challenges of the Church today”, said Spiegel.

Read next:

Why Novena supports the Amazon Synod


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PhD in ancient Jewish/Christian history and philosophy. University ethics lecturer with 4 years' experience in religion journalism.