Many Amazon bishops support ordination of married men and women deacons, bishop says
Oct 8, 2019
US & World
CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE
VATICAN CITY -- Most bishops who lead dioceses in the Amazon support the ordination of married men of proven virtue, or "viri probati," as a way of addressing the lack of priests in the region, a Brazilian bishop said.
Speaking to journalists after a Vatican press briefing Oct. 9, retired Bishop Erwin Krautler of Xingu said, "I guess that (of) the bishops who are in the Amazon region, two-thirds are in favor of the 'viri probati.'"
Several bishops and other speakers at the Synod of Bishops for the Amazon proposed the ordination of married men, preferably elders in their respective communities, as a solution for remote communities that often go from one month to up to one year without the celebration of the Eucharist.
During the synod's morning session Oct. 8, the Vatican said, several bishops proposed the ordination of married "viri probati," and at least one suggested the Church could "evaluate over time whether this experience is valid or not."
At the briefing, Bishop Krautler said that when it comes to ordaining married men of proven virtue, "there is no other option."
"The indigenous people don't understand celibacy; they say that very openly and I see it," the bishop said. "When I go to an indigenous village, the first thing they ask is, 'Where is your wife?' And I tell them, 'I don't have one.' Then they look at me with pity."
Bishop Krautler added that there are thousands of indigenous communities in the Amazon that "do not celebrate the Eucharist except perhaps one, two or three times a year."
"The Eucharist, for us Catholics, is the source and summit of our faith. And these poor people are practically excluded from the context of the Catholic Church," he said.
"St. John Paul II said the church doesn't exist unless it is around the altar," Bishop Krautler continued. "For the love of God, these people don't have it!"
Bishops in favor of ordaining married men, he said, "are not against celibacy. We just want these brothers and sisters of ours not to have just a celebration of the word but also the celebration of the Eucharist."
Several speakers at the synod also proposed ordaining women deacons.
Bishop Krautler told journalists after the briefing that while he wasn't sure how many bishops supported the proposal, he believed "many of the bishops are in favor of the ordination of female deacons."
"Why are women (not able) to be ordained?" he asked rhetorically. "Why?"
Asked directly whether he supported the ordination of women as deacons, he responded, "Yes. Logically."
When pressed as to whether the synod would lead to ordaining women deacons, Bishop Krautler said, "No." However, he added, the synod "may be a step" in that direction.
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