VICICAN CITY – On the heels of a remarkable call from bishops of the Amazon region for married men to become priests, Pope Francis on Sunday urges Catholics to be open to new ways of evangelism, saying the church must "open new ways "
He also warned against self-righteousness, in the obvious slap in the face of conservative critics who fear he is weakening the foundations of the church.
Allowing married men to be ordained in remote parts of the Amazon with a severe shortage of priests will break away from the practice of the church for nearly a millennium maintaining priestly celibacy. It would also help the church compete with the evangelical and Protestant churches, which are increasingly gaining acceptance there.
The Vatican Council or Synod, lasting three weeks, on the special needs of Catholics in this South American region, includes a vote by a majority of more than 1
Francis expressed gratitude that the bishops spoke with "sincerity and candor." He said he would send his response in writing by the end of the year.
Addressing the public at St. Peter's Square, Francis said he and the synod participants felt compelled to "leave comfortable shores" in search of new ways to fulfill the church's mission of spreading the Catholic faith.
Francis often praises celibacy for priests. If the Pontiff-born Argentine embraces the appeal of bishops in his home continent, it is unclear whether this could erode the rule of celibacy elsewhere.
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The ordering of married men, even in limited circumstances, risks deepening the antipathy in the highly conservative church circles of Francis, which they consider dangerously progressive.
Francis said that he and the bishops "felt compelled to go out, to leave the comfortable shores of our safe harbors, to sink in deep waters – not in the marshy waters of ideologies, but in the open sea where the Spirit invites us. to discard fishing nets, ie "he said, referring to the gospel writings on fishing for the souls of men.
In the prepared notes, which he does not read, he seems to allude to the appeal for married priests when he encouraged him to be open to" new things. " "
His critics, including the so-called traditionalist Catholics, urged the Vatican to strictly adhere to age-old rules requiring priests to be unmarried, unmarried men. But in the early centuries of the church, married men served as priests. Even the Holy One Peter, chosen by hand by Jesus, was married, as were many of the first apostles.
Currently, the Vatican is allowing married men to become priests in the churches of the Eastern Rite, and eager to include the converts, he also allowed the married
In a possible reference to those who consider themselves guardians of the faith, Francis warned against self-righteousness and what he laughed at "self-canonization."
that mature, married men with "proven virtue" can become priests has been suggested for decades, including during the papacy of St. John Paul II, dear conservative.
But the Amazon Synod's official proposal was the first official call for it.
Francis can take this impulse. But he can also act cautiously to avoid disorienting believers whose trust in the church hierarchy has been severely shattered by decades of pedophile priest scandals in many countries.
Italian theologian Marinella Perroni, noting in an interview with the Italian daily La Stampa that the ban on married priests became official more than 1,000 years after the church was founded, laughing that it might take more than a century before marriage was a long hindrance for the ordination.
Synod bishops also urge the Vatican to reopen the study of whether women can be ordained deacons with a lesser role than priests. During the papacy of Francis, a committee examining this perspective did not take any action.
Deborah-Rosa Milavets, co-director of Future Church, an advocacy group for progressive change, was cautious about someday having female deacons, especially since any married priest in the Amazon would likely be selected from the ranks of male deacons .
Francis also voices environmental concerns from the bishops of the Amazon.
He laments that the native peoples of the Amazon were considered "backward and of little merit," and reproached those who despised their traditions and sought to erase their history, and "occupied their lands and usurped their goods. "
" How much supposed superiority, converted to oppression and exploitation, exists even today! "Francis said." The mistakes of the past were not enough to stop other people from being robbed and wounded by our brothers and sisters and our sister. "