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  September 2020  
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No Openings for Married Priests Nor Women Deacons in Pope’s Post-Synodal Exhortation on the Amazon ‘Querida Amazonia’ (*Full Text*)

February 12, 2020. Warns Against “Reductionism,” “Very Narrow Aims” & Calls for Striving “to Awaken New Life in Communities”

In order to combat the shortage of priests in the Amazon, Pope Francis says this “urgent need” requires prayer for priestly vocations and more encouraging of the missionary vocation…

This was the Holy Father’s conclusion in ‘Querida Amazonia’, Pope Francis’ post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation on the Amazon, which was published today after great anticipation.

The papal document is the fruit of the Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Pan- Amazonian Region, on the theme “Amazon: new paths for the Church and for an integral ecology.”

The regional Synod took place in the Vatican, Oct. 6-27, 2019, bringing together the Roman Curia and the region’s Church leadership and religious order superiors.

Composed of 111 paragraphs and published originally in Spanish, ‘Dear Amazon’ is broken up into Pope Francis’ different ‘dreams’ for the territory and concludes with a prayer to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

With half of the text being dedicated to ecclesial matters, there is a great emphasis throughout it for the pastoral care of the indigenous in the region that reaches nine countries, and for the environment.

In the text, Pope Francis does not affirm the idea proposed by bishops during the synod of ordaining married priests in the Latin Rite in that region, where faithful may go many months without receiving the Eucharist due to lack of priests.

‘Urgent Need’ Requires Prayer for Priestly Vocations, Encouraging Missionary Vocation

The Pope instead suggests: “This urgent need leads me to urge all bishops, especially those in Latin America, 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.”

Pope Francis says “it’s not simply a question of facilitating a greater presence of ordained ministers who can celebrate the Eucharist. That would be a very narrow aim, were we not also to strive to awaken new life in communities.”

The Holy Father has repeatedly expressed his opposition of the idea of changing the law on priestly celibacy. He did so on the return flight from his Apostolic Trip to Panama, quoting Saint Pope Paul VI who said he would rather give his life than change the law on celibacy.

Also this week, when meeting with US bishops in Rome during their ad Limina visit, he suggested nothing would change.

Moreover, in a recent book he participated in, on John Paul II, Francis again reaffirmed this, noting his conviction that celibacy for the Latin Rite “is a gift, a grace” and “never a limit.”

Don’t Diminish Great Value of Women by ‘Clericalizing’ Them

In the text, there is no new opening for women deacons. Francis suggest that “only reductionism” would lead us to to believe that women would be granted a greater status and participation in the Church only if they were admitted to Holy Orders.”

He warned “that approach would in fact narrow our vision; it would lead us to clericalize women, diminish the great value of what they have already accomplished.”

While some may have suggested that if Pope Francis does not open a door to study this option that it was influenced by the “From the Depths of Our Hearts” book published on Jan. 14 by Cardinal Robert Sarah with the contribution of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, which reaffirmed priestly celibacy, well-informed sources state that Pope Francis submitted his document on Dec. 27 and the document, other than for minor translation tweaks, has not been changed since.

Today, Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020, there is the presentation of the document, titled: “Querida Amazonia (‘Dear Amazon’),” in the Holy See Press Office. The Pope held his usual General Audience this morning.

Those speaking at the presentation include Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops; Card. Michael Czerny, SI, Under-Secretary of the Migrants and Refugees Section of the Department for Integral Human Development, Special Secretary of the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon Region; Father Adelson Araújo dos Santos, SI , Theologian and Professor of Spirituality at the Pontifical Gregorian University; Sister Augusta de Oliveira , SMR , Vicar General of the Servant Sisters of Maria Riparatrici; Professor Carlos Nobre , Scientist, Nobel Prize 2007, Member of the Environmental Sciences Commission of the National Council of Scientific and Technological Development.

There will also be a video contribution from Bishop David Martínez de Aguirre Guinea, OP , Bishop of the Vicariate of Puerto Maldonado, Special Secretary of the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon Region.