Pope Francis has refused to ordain married men as a solution to the Amazon region’s shortage of priests.
An Issue Spanning Decades
The issue on whether or not to ordain married men to serve as priests in regions such as the Amazon has been troubling the Catholic Church for quite some time, going back to Pope Francis’ predecessor Pope Benedict XVI.
Many bishops have recommended that older, married men should be allowed to serve as priests in the Amazon, if they match certain requirements such as being well-respected in the communities in which they would eventually work.
However, in a sigh of relief for the Catholic Church’s conservative wing, Pope Francis refused the ordination of married men and women deacons, instead looking at other options.
The Amazon people have had troubles with practicing religion due to a massive shortage of priests, estimates say that close to 90% of villages in the Amazon can’t celebrate Mass due to the issue. In some of the more remote regions, it’s believed that people see a priest about one time a year.
Francis instead hopes that the bishops will pray for more priestly vocations, while also looking at the options of sending missionaries to the region, and possibly viri probati (men of proven faith), the Pope hinted during an interview with German newspaper Der Zeit.
The Pope’s document “Beloved Amazon” is meant instead to help everyone in the world “awaken their affection and concern for that land which is also ours and to invite them to value it and acknowledge it as a sacred mystery.”
Pope Francis’ so-called dodging of the issue comes from the desire to keep attention focused on preserving the Amazon, as well as the people and communities living in the region.