Apostolic exhortation on Amazon disappoints and outrages

The apostolic exhortation on the Amazon has disappointed those hoping for an opening of clerical roles to married men and women.

Many are saying that in Querida Amazonia (“Beloved Amazon”) Pope Francis has failed to extend his prophetic voice about environmental injustice to injustices to the church. They are also outraged over its language of complementarity.

Married priests
Francis has declined the request made by many bishops at last year’s synod to open priestly ordination to married men and the possibility of women deacons to help address the severe lack of ministers in the nine nations of the Amazon region.

After the testimony of women at the synod, the pope’s response is “willful blindness,” one woman says. “I can’t imagine what the women in the Amazon feel.”

“We are profoundly shocked and disappointed,” a spokesperson for a church reform group that advocates for an inclusive priesthood.

“We were hopeful that this process would begin a Vatican II approach to governance and that leadership would listen to the needs of the people.

“One of our deep regrets is that this, like our culture, has devolved into an either/or, black or white, conservative or progressive fight, which loses the focus that this is about the needs of the people of God.”

The Women’s Ordination Conference (WOC) criticised Francis’s for “willfully turning his back on the calls of women for recognition of the sacramental ministries they offer the people of the Amazon and the global church,”.

“This shows, yet again, that a synod without the equal voice and votes of women will never produce fruit that satisfies the urgent needs of the people of God,” a WOC statement said.

Querida’s use of the language of complementarity and warnings about a “functional approach” is not raising optimism about further discussion of women deacons.

Instead it criticises a “reductionism [that] would lead us to believe that women would be granted a greater status and participation in the Church only if they were admitted to Holy Orders.”

“Women make their contribution to the Church … by making present the tender strength of Mary, the Mother,” Francis wrote.

Querida’s use of “spousal” language in the section about women is also raising hackles, with one theologian saying it contains a “fundamental inequality,” where “Men are to women as Christ is to the church.

“That is not equality … When we transpose this to the human realm with men/women in the places of Christ/church, it’s misogyny.”

Access to the Eucharist

Although representatives from the Amazon at the synod reported that Catholics sometimes go months without the Eucharist because of a lack of clergy, especially in rural regions, Querida does not suggest married priests or women could fill the gap.

Instead it urges church leaders to pray: “not only to promote prayer for priestly vocations, but also to be more generous in encouraging those who display a missionary vocation to opt for the Amazon region.”




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