Synod for the Amazon: No majority for the viri probati

Out of 12 small groups, five are in favour, four against, three others would leave the decision to the Pope or to a universal synod. There is agreement over environmental problems and the violence endured by indigenous people. The contribution of women to evangelisation must be valued. One proposal calls for an "Amazonian rite".

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – The reports by the small synodal groups were presented today following the month-long discussions in the Vatican. No majority exists among them with respect to the proposal of allowing viri probati, i.e. married men, to join the priesthood in the Amazon.

Various participants have expressed doubts and opposition to this proposal, which is in a prominent position in the Instrumentum Laboris and has been mentioned almost every day during the synod press briefing. The reports of the 12 circoles minores, based on the language of their members, were presented yesterday afternoon to the assembly and handed out today to the media.

From a summary analysis it appears that at least five groups (Italian A, Portuguese A and B, Spanish C and D) are in favour of allowing "mature persons", "indigenous", "with an established and stable family" into the priesthood so as to ensure the Sacrament of the Eucharist to which all the faithful "have a right".

Four other groups (Italian B, Spanish A and E, English-French) are against the proposal and prefer to encourage the laity to grow in maturity so that they can be evangelisers thanks to the baptism.

One group (Italian B) expressed "doubts about the lack of reflection on the causes that have led to the proposal to transcend somehow priestly celibacy as expressed in the Second Vatican Council (PO 16) and the subsequent magisterium."

Some groups remain in the middle (Portuguese C and D; Spanish B), preferring to leave the decision to the pope, or recognising – like almost all the opposing groups - that a universal Synod should be held on the topic since it concerns all the Churches in the world.

By contrast, there is a great deal of unity with respect to environmental problems and the need to protect the indigenous cultures in the Amazon Region, which are important to the whole Church, indeed the world.

There is also a broad consensus about the analysis of the violence endured by the peoples of the Amazon and by nature, as well as about the need to empower women, who play a central role in the life of indigenous communities.

Here too, some would like to see women take on a “clerical” role via the female deaconate whilst others would see women in positions of leadership in communities since women already contribute immensely to evangelisation.

As AsiaNews has already indicated, the groups warn the Amazon Churches not to reduce the work of evangelisation to what NGOs do, something that has led many faithful to look elsewhere (often to Pentecostal sects) for an answer to their thirst for spirituality.

One very interesting proposal calls for an "Amazonian rite" as a path for inculturation, one that “enhances the value of local symbols and cultural practices within the liturgy of the Church in the Amazon, whilst preserving the substantial unity of the Roman rite."