Synod for the Amazon: Ministeriality and sacramentality are top issues

There is a call to set up a permanent episcopal body to promote synodality in the Amazon and a permanent observatory for human rights and the protection of the region. The issue of viri probati continues to take centre stage.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – In its meetings yesterday and today, the Synod talked about the urgent need to create a permanent episcopal body to promote synodality in the Amazon and a permanent observatory for human rights and the protection of the region.

It also discussed issued related to ministeriality. The focus was on the laity, especially women. Some speakers noted that a female deaconate existed in the early Church, suggesting that such a ministry, along with the lectorship and the acolyteship, could be re-established. A fund to finance the biblical, theological and pastoral training of the laity was also suggested, so that lay people can better contribute to the Church’s evangelising action.

If today dispensing with celibacy was discussed again so that married men could, under the supervision of a responsible presbyter, minister in dispersed ecclesial communities, yesterday some suggested that, before turning to viri probati presbyters, the Church might turn to viri probate deacons. The permanent deaconate could serve as a real laboratory for married men in the sacrament of Orders. One speaker suggested that the question of viri probati and female ministeriality should be dealt with in an ordinary synodal assembly since the topics are universal in scope.

At the daily briefing on the Synod’s work, Mgr Eugenio Coter, apostolic vicar in Pando and titular bishop of Tibiuca, Bolivia, confirmed that the viri probati continue to be a major issue, and that “we continue to speak every day about the topic of sacramentality, which is part of Christian life.”

In the Amazon, “unlike other places, communal ministeriality is something already de facto experienced.” In his view, “There is a shared feeling in the synodal assembly about raising with the Pope the issue of the priestly ordination of married men". With respect to the viri probati, he said that “the Pope already spoke about it on his journey back from Panama, and the Synod is reflecting on this. Many possibilities are being discussed.” In addition, “We are asking ourselves how to train these people, so that they can reach the farthest communities.”

Mgr Rafael Alfonso Escudero López-Brea, prelate-bishop of Moyobamba, Peru, reported that one of the most talked about topics is the elaboration of a liturgy that is representative of indigenous cultures. This would call for “setting up commissions to work on how to give an Amazonian face to the liturgy".

Some “are asking for a rite that is different from the one the Church already has,” he said. This way we can “introduce symbols and rituals into the Eucharistic celebration that do not have an impact on what is essential in the rite, but can enrich the celebration so that the Eucharist is celebrated with the peculiarities of indigenous peoples.”