The Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon region is scheduled to meet in Rome in October 2019. The synod will include bishops and other representatives from the nine countries of the Amazon basin, including indigenous peoples. According to a document published on Friday ahead of a 2019 special synod, Catholic bishops need to think of new ways to allow the faithful to access the Eucharist, and acknowledges that the church is spread “precariously thin” in the region. It also calls on bishops to consider the role of women in the Amazon, and what ministerial roles they might play, “taking into account the central role women play today in the Amazonian church”.
"The Special Synod’s reflections transcend the strictly ecclesial-Amazonian sphere, because they focus on the universal Church, as well as on the future of the entire planet. We begin with a specific geographical area in order to build a bridge to the other important biomes of our world: the Congo basin, the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor, the tropical forests of the Asia Pacific region, and the Guarani Aquifer, among others,” the document reads.
Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, the general secretary of the synod of bishops, in a discussion about the document, said that the church was not making an “official declaration” about the role of married men and women serving in ministries, but he suggested there was room for debate. “Here we speak of ministry – there are lots of various forms of ministry,” he said. “Let’s leave freedom to the discussion. We are not trying to preclude anything.”
There is a possibility that the church would allow married men and women to serve in new roles, at least in the Amazon. It is a "Church with an Amazonian face" that must "seek a model of alternative, integral, and solidarity-based development, grounded on an ethical code that includes responsibility for an authentic, natural, and human ecology, which is the foundation for the gospel of justice, solidarity, and the universal destiny of earthly goods. It means going beyond a utilitarian and individualistic logic that refuses to submit economic and technological powers to ethical criteria".
Some Catholic scholars have said the approval of ‘viri probati’ in the Amazon may eventually pave the way for their use elsewhere in the world as a response to the shortage of priests. From the late 20th century, the Catholic Church has been criticized for its doctrines on sexuality, its refusal to ordain women and its handling of sexual abuse cases. If there is at least a grain of flexibility and openness to change within the Catholic Church, then this is a step forward for them. On the other side, the Catholic Church certainly needs to increase the number of believers, even if it means changing some of its basic postulates.
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