A majority of the small groups at the Amazon Synod in Rome have expressed support for married priests and women deacons.
Driving the news
The Vatican Press Office published today the first reports of the twelve small working groups in which participants have been discussing synod themes along language lines.
Two of the groups are Italian-speaking, four are Portuguese-speaking, five are Spanish-speaking and one group is for English- and French-speaking attendees.
The summaries are a good first indication of what attendees are likely to be looking for in the Synod final document, which is expected to be voted on towards the end of the meet, on the 26th of the month.
In total, six of the small groups want married priests and three want further study, while four groups want women deacons and three want more study.
On the possibility of ordaining to the priesthood married men of proven virtue (viri probati), Italian-language group A asked “that in Christian communities with a consolidated path of faith, mature, respected and known persons, preferably indigenous, whether celibate or with a stable and consolidated family, be ordained, in order to ensure the availability of the sacraments that guarantee and sustain the Christian life”.
This Italian group said their request for married priests came from the communities they serve, who seek “to be able to celebrate the holy Eucharist frequently and, possibly, stably, as an irrevocable right of the lay faithful”.
Spanish-language group B likewise called for “the possibility of conferring the priesthood to married men for the Amazon, on an exceptional basis, under specific circumstances and for certain specific peoples, clearly establishing the reasons that justify it”.
“It would not in any way be a second-class priest”, that Spanish-language group added.
Spanish-language group D said that the Amazon region is full of “married men of good reputation who are responsible and good examples of citizen virtues and who are good community leaders who feel the call to serve the people of God as instruments of the sanctification of the people of God”.
“It will be important to discern, through consultation with the people of God and the discernment of the ordinary [bishop] of the place, the desirability of these people to prepare adequately and subsequently to be chosen for priestly service”, Spanish group D added.
“It’s not about a 3rd or 4th grade priesthood, or a simple functional resource for the celebration of the Eucharist”, the group explained, insisting that those of married men would be true priestly vocations.
Why it matters
Portuguese-language group A, meanwhile, said “new ministries” for the Church, such as married priests and women deacons, are “necessary and urgent… to ensure the sacraments that accompany and sustain the Christian life of the community”.
With women deacons, “we will give a feminine and maternal face to the Church”, Portuguese group A added.
Portuguese group B, likewise, said it was “necessary” that married men be ordained to the priesthood.
“Given that the presence of women is decisive in the life and mission of the Church in the Amazon, and that the Second Vatican Council restored the permanent diaconate for men – because it is good and useful for the Church – we believe that the same argument is valid for creating the diaconate for women in the church in the Amazon”, Portuguese group B continued.
Spanish-language group A, for its part, explained that “it is necessary in a synodal Church that women assume pastoral and management responsibilities”.
“There must be a recognition of women in the Church through ministeriality”, Spanish group A said.
Spanish group C said that “given the tradition of the Church, it is possible to give women access to the instituted ministries of lector and acolyte, as well as the permanent diaconate”, while Spanish group D called for “an official ministry in the Church for women” but which wouldn’t require ordination.
For the record
For all the support for married priests and women deacons in the small groups, however, there was also opposition to the proposals among synod participants.
Portuguese-language group D, for example, reaffirmed in its report “the value of celibacy and the need for greater commitment to vocation”.
“Some synod fathers believe that the proposal [for married priests in the Amazon] concerns all continents, that it could reduce the value of celibacy or cause a missionary impulse to serve the most distant communities to be lost”, Italian-language group A expressed.
“They believe that, in virtue of the theological principle of synodality, the theme perhaps should be placed before the opinion of the whole Church, and they suggest, moreover, a universal synod in that regard”, Italian group A added.
Some participants in Italian-language group B, moreover, expressed “perplexity” with regard to “the lack of reflection on the causes that have led to the proposal to set aside, in some form, priestly celibacy as expressed by the Second Vatican Council and the successive magisterium”.