“The Church always needs reforms” – Pope


Pope Francis while addressing the members of the Synod of Bishops after they approved the final document Saturday evening said that “the Church always needs reform”.

He also added that the section in the document that deals with the role of women was a bit short.

“I would just like to underline this: we still have not realized what women mean in the Church.” We are only thinking about it from a functional point of view, said the Pope. “The role of women in the Church goes far beyond mere functionality,” he said.

In his final remarks, the pope also said that the emphasis should not be “who won” intra-ecclesial debates but on the region itself, which he said was the main focus.

“We all won with the diagnosis,” he said of the final document’s attention to the complex needs of the Amazon

Married priests?

The  Synod of Bishops living in the nine countries of the Amazon region approved a final document that opened the door for the possible for the possible ordination of married men to the priesthood under limited circumstances. The proposal limits the ordination to men who are already deacons.

The final 30-page document was approved by a majority of the  184 members, mostly bishops. The document titled “Amazonia: New Ways for the Church and for an Integral Ecology,” which offers a narrow opening to ordain married men in remote areas of the 9-country region, although.

The Synod held between October 6-27 will officially conclude today Sunday with a Mass celebrated by Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Basilica. It is also up to the Pope to approve the conclusions of the Synod. The pope said on Saturday that he would like to write a final document, preferably before the end of the year.

The document suggests that the ordination to the priesthood of those popularly described as viri probati or “esteemed men of the community”should  be open to those who “have had a fruitful permanent diaconate and receive an adequate formation for the priesthood, having a legitimately constituted and stable family, to sustain the life of the Christian community through the preaching of the Word and the celebration of the Sacraments in the most remote areas of the Amazon region.”

The text also refers to the question of whether or not to ordain women to the diaconate.  The final document recommends more studies on the historical nature of the question, while noting that “in a large number of these consultations, the permanent diaconate for women was requested.”

Ecological dimension

The ecological dimension in an important part of the document which in its introduction notes that all participants have expressed a keen “awareness of the dramatic situation of destruction affecting the Amazon.”

Bishop David Martinez de Aguirre, the apostolic vicar of Puerto Maldonado, in Peru, addressed the final press conference. He noted that the cry of the indigenous, who know that “if the rainforest disappears, we all die with it,” is present throughout the document.

He also grieved the fact that the extraction of gold is “closer to all of us than the word of God,” urging the Church to help intervene in both protecting the Amazon and promoting an evangelizing zeal, with a more “abundant” presence of the Church.

The bishops were very clear in their condemnation of  violations of human rights by multinational companies exploiting the natural resources of the Amazon, and also said they “support divestment campaigns against extractive companies related to socio-ecological damage of the Amazon, beginning with the ecclesial institutions themselves and also in alliance with other churches.”

Ecological sins

“In the present moment, the Church has the historic opportunity to distance itself from the new colonizing powers by listening to the Amazonian peoples and transparently exercising its prophetic activity,” the final document states.

“In addition, the socio-environmental crisis opens up new opportunities to present Christ with all his power to liberate and humanize,” it said.

Listening to the cry of the earth, the poor and the peoples of the Amazon calls for a “true and integral conversion, to a simple and model style of life, all nourished by a mystical spirituality in the style of St. Francis of Assisi.”

The Synod called on the Church to be Samaritan, merciful and in solidarity with others, as well as committed to ecumenical, interreligious and cultural dialogue.

Among the recommendations on an ecological conversion is the official recognition of a “ecological sins.”

The document concludes with a proposal for a commission to study the possibility of establishing an Amazon rite within the Catholic Church for the region for “liturgical pluralism.”