Small Group Reports Indicate Support for Women Deacons and even Stronger Support for Married Priests

Today, we received the small language group reports at the end of the first two weeks of the synod.

These reports will be used to build the final document which will be presented on Monday, October 21 and, given the representation in the synod hall (approximately 35 females; 230 males), reflect greater openness to married priests (10 of 12 groups) than women deacons (7 of 12 groups).

Reporting on the small groups today were:

As I listened to the speakers today, I think I was most surprised by Archbishop Rino Fisichella. Not exactly a paragon of progressive ideas, he voiced support for an Amazonian rite because, "There is a need for people to give rise to their own faith and that this is not just about the Eucharist, but the theological, liturgical, and spiritual aspects of faith."

Not bad!

Mauricio Lopez, the Executive Director of REPAM, gave an impassioned plea for opening our hearts and minds to the root cause of the problems we face - inequality. As societies become ever more stratified with more economic, social and political power being consolidated in the hands of a few, we need to work ever more diligently for equality amongst all people.

Sister Daniela Adriana Cannavina's words were inspiring and clear. She said, “the voice of women grew as the synodal work proceeded", suggesting that this resulted in the attention dedicated to the topic in the small-group reports."

Just think what would happen if women had full and equal representation at the synod!

Sr. Daniela also spoke about shared responsibility for the life of the church and its people. She wants a church where women religious, indigenous women and others make synodality visible through cooperation and greater responsibility.

We want to strengthen the roles of women and also recognize their ministries now. “It’s time to answer the need to renew our presence in the Amazon,” she said. “We must give women a more consolidated role.”

Small Group Reports

There were twelve small language groups. Five Spanish; four Portuguese; two Italian; and one English/French offered very well developed ideas about what they want to see captured in the final report and what paths might be valuable as the Church strengthens its presence in the Amazon region.

In terms of the structure or vehicle for building a stronger church presence, here is what is most important. There is support for:

    An Amazonian rite that would fully integrate Amazonian rituals, customs, and culture. Even the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith advocated for this proposal (Italian Group B). This could serve as the vehicle for incorporating women deacons and married priests.

    Married priests, preferably indigenous men who can be an authentic pastoral presence to indigenous peoples. Ten out of the twelve groups offered something in their proposals along this line.
    Women deacons as an acknowledgement of the ways women are acting in those roles now. Seven out of twelve groups acknowledged that this idea should be considered and four advocated for it very strongly.

Read the Reports for Yourself

The summaries of the reports are very enlightening. Joshua McElwee did a superb job and Catholic News Service, Vatican News, Religion News Service are also was very useful.

But I like to read things for myself.

Since, the reports came to us in Portuguese, Spanish and Italian, my pre-school understanding of Spanish is only minimally helpful. So I use Google translate to convert them. The translation is certainly imperfect, but still very useful. If you want to access my working translation, you can find it here. And if you are an expert in languages (I envy you), you can read the original reports here.

The Main Proposals from the Portuguese and Spanish Groups

Below I extracted some (not all) of the proposals from first, the Portuguese and Spanish groups who are rooted in the realities of the Amazon, followed by the Italian and English/French groups. While the Portuguese and Spanish groups offer the bold proposals, it is noteworthy that Italian Group B, under Cardinal Ladaria's leadership recommended the Amazonian rite.

Portuguese A

  1. In addition to the ministries of reader, acolyte, permanent deacon, ministry of the Word, ministry of baptism, among others, we ask the Holy Father, to admit to the Pan Amazon region, men to the priestly ministry, and women to the diaconate, preferably indigenous, respecting their recognition in the community.
  2. We propose a training that is planned with teams of trainers including women. A competent team assisted with the vocation ministry seeking servants from the region itself...We also propose the commitment to make formation permanent and insist on a missionary spirit and a spirit of poverty.
  3. We ask for an Amazonian rite with theological, disciplinary and spiritual heritage that expresses at the same time the universality and catholicity of the Church in the Amazon, respecting the rites of each people, as well as, their religious leaders (the shamans).
  4. We propose to maintain the service of REPAM; Create an Episcopal representative body of the Local Churches of the Panamazonic Region attached to the Latin American Episcopal Council (CELAM).
  5. We propose, therefore, the creation of indigenous schools and universities with their own linguistics. Translation of the Bible and catechism into indigenous languages.  
  6. We propose a poor Church, with the poor, for the poor: A church of solidarity and a sister church.  
  7. We propose ecumenical and inter-religious dialogue. "There will be no peace in the world if there is no peace between religions" (Hans Kung). We propose two colloquia between theologians from RELEP (Latin American Network of Pentecostal Studies) and the Catholic theologians. One in the Amazon and another in Rome.
  8. Based on the lives of many Amazonian martyrs, we propose a covenant in the struggle for truth, for the defense of rights of indigenous peoples with missionary ardor.
  9. We call for an urban pastoral of welcome, protection, promotion and integration in the path of human dignity. God lives in the city.
  10. We propose calling on international agencies to combat trafficking in persons and drugs.          
  11. We propose the creation of a human rights watchdog in the Pana-amazon territory, diocesan Human Rights Commissions for justice and peace creating and tracking public policies.
  12. We propose to uphold indigenous rights to remain on the land, of which they are the legitimate heirs, to know the rights guaranteed by the 1988 Constitution, as well as Convention 169 from the International Labor Organization, which guarantees the right to consultation by the original, indigenous...people affected by dams.
  13. We propose an alternative development model with quality of life through agro-ecology courses. Development of sustainable projects through courses that lead to the knowledge of secrets / sacred by nature through schools of training in agricultural techniques.  
  14. We propose to use the social disseminate the conclusions of this Synod; Foster the spirituality of the encounter between all faces of the Amazon; Spread the word about what happens in the Amazon when a project destroys biodiversity; Announce the values ​​of the original peoples that contribute to a civilization of love; Open spaces for indigenous people in MCS. In times of fakenews make known to the world the truth from Amazon.                                      

Portuguese B

  1. Insert the theme from Integral Ecology into the guidelines of episcopal conferences, pastoral plans of dioceses and parish programs.              
  2. Include in moral theology respect for the Common House and ecological sins by reviewing the manuals and rituals of the sacrament of Penance
  3. Develop a large grassroots education and awareness movement forming pastoral workers at all levels.                  
  4. Establish the Ministry of Care from the Common Home in Amazonian communities.
  5. Ensure a plan of presbyteral formation (celibate and Viri Probati).
  6. Develop solid human formation in the seminaries.    
  7. Support lay spirituality, starting from the experience of baptism, which values conjugal and family love, work, entrepreneurship, honesty and professional competence.
  8. Train laity for the exercise of charity in the performance of public policies, in social movements and in the occupation of political positions, inspired by the Gospel. Train to volunteer in service to the Church and in society, starting from initiation into the Christian life.
  9. Ordain viri probati, married men...who have a life of prayer and love for the Word of God and the Church; Eucharistic life that is reflected in a life of giving and service; community experience; missionary spirit. In implementing viri probati ordination we present two paths to the Panamazonia region: a) To delegate to the Episcopal Conferences present in Panamazonia to implement this ministry, or b) to entrust bishops to conduct the experience.  
  10. Ordain women to the Diaconate. Given the decisive presence of women in the History of Salvation, such as Mary and the Mission of the Church, by Saints, Popes' Doctors and Counselors; Given that the presence of women is decisive in the life and mission of the Church in the Amazon, and that the Vatican II Council restored Permanent Diaconate for men - because it is good and useful for the Church - we believe that this same reasoning is valid for creating the Diaconate for women in the Church in the Amazon.
  11. In order to sustain the Church in the Amazon, a) Resize the extensive geographical areas of the Dioceses and Territorial Prelatures; b) Create an Amazon Fund for the Sustainability and Evangelization; c) Sensitize and stimulate international Catholic cooperation agencies to support, in addition to social projects, evangelization activities.
  12. Increase projects with sister Churches where it already exists, and create it in conferences where it does not exist, promoting sharing between resourceful and poorer dioceses.    
  13. Promote a specific pastoral care of the indigenous people living in the city, in which they themselves are protagonists.          

Portuguese C

  1. We highlight the need for personal and pastoral conversion, to regain the centrality from Word and Eucharist.
  2. We need various possibilities including the diaconate, viri probati, women, married priests, the role of the laity, especially women.
  3. We emphasize that it is important to emphasize the biblical, missionary, pastoral and human dimension in the formation of the new priests. All this for an "outreaching" church.
  4. For a Church with an Amazonian face, it is necessary to haveindigenous vocations.  
  5. We need to make a preferential choice of investing time in our youth.
  6. The prophetic voice from the Church, inspired by the Social Doctrine from the Church, must echo in the strengthening of Justice and Peace Commissions, Life Protection Commissions, social pastoral and support for social movements. In the Amazon, opting for the poor is opting for the forest peoples. Let us not let the prophecy die.
  7. We need prayers based on the Bible in Amazonian languages, which unites faith and life, which gives knowledge of the Word and strengthens spirituality.

Portuguese D

  1. We propose institutional actions that promote respect for the environment.
  2. We propose designing formal training programs for care of our Common Home to their pastoral agents and their faithful, open to the whole community in “one effort to form the consciousness of the population ”(LS, 214), based on chs. V and VI from Encyclical Laudato Si
  3. We Propose denouncing the violation of human rights and extractive destruction.
  4. We propose creation of a Ministry of Guardians for our common home.
  5. The manifestations with which the people express their faith, through images, symbols, traditions, rites and other sacramentals are appreciated, accompanied and promoted.
  6. We reaffirm the value of celibacy and the need for greater commitment to vocation ministry with considerations essential to the enhancement of existing ministries and institutions of new ministries as needed.
  7. The Synod expressed the desire to confer viri probati priestly ordination, as well as the ministry from diakonia to women. These two points call for further ripening and deepening.

Spanish A  

  1. It is necessary that in a synodal church the woman assumes pastoral and leadership responsibilities, there must be recognition of women in the Church through ministry. Therefore, it is proposed that a Synod be dedicated to the identity and service of women in the Church where women have a voice and vote.
  2. It is proposed that the [shrinking] presence of religious orders be reviewed, and that [the places where they first developed communities] be adopted or assumed by a Diocese. The Episcopal Conferences can assume them as a missionary task of the Church.
  3. It is proposed to review the boundaries of jurisdictions, to reduce their territories and make pastoral care more effective in communities.
  4. The creation of a Panamazon ecclesial organism and watchdog in defense of human rights is proposed, so that the Church that affects some forums of the world can carry the voice of the Amazon in defense of territories and peoples. The Church has the task of accompanying and protecting the lives of human rights defenders, who are often criminalized by public authorities.
  5. It is proposed to continue with the beatification processes of the martyrs of Amazonia.
  6. In the Liturgy and popular religiosity, the cultural expression of the people that illuminate the life and faith of cultures is manifested. We must take care and discern to purify what goes against the Gospel and the values ​​of the same community.
  7. The creation of a network of educational institutions of the Amazon is proposed, which help to find new paths in order to an integral ecology, taking advantage of the resources they have in each place and looking for joint actions that promote the care of the common house.

Spanish B

  1. We see the strengthening of the lay ministries as very much necessary since the implementation of the institutional ministries of the Lectorate and the Acolyte already foreseen in the Motu Propió “Ministeriam Quaedam” (1971), but extending its application not only to men but also to women.
  2. It appears, according to local needs that a huge variety of services may also be instituted with prior discernment within the ecclesial community.
  3. In the reflection on the permanent Diaconate, this Circle invites to welcome and continue applying the lights of Vatican II in Lumen Gentium and to develop them according to the guidelines of the “Ad gentes” Document for a greater inculturation of this ministry in the Amazon.
  4. There is the possibility of raising the question of the Diaconate for women in the Church. Welcoming, and in tune, with several opinions expressed in the Synod Hall, this Circle encourages further study of this matter by looking more at its future possibilities than its past history. In addition, it is recognized that many functions of this ministry are performed by women in the Amazon, being they who maintain in so many places the permanent presence of the Church and feed the processes of faith.
  5. Some propose asking the Holy Father for the possibility of conferring the Presbyterate to married men for the Amazon, on an exceptional basis, under specific circumstances and for certain specific peoples, clearly establishing the reasons that justify it. It would not be treated in any way of second-class presbyters. It should be borne in mind that there are many voices that insist that this issue be decided for the Amazon in the current Synod Assembly. Other voices, on the other hand, think that it should be studied and defined in a specific Synod Assembly.
  6. We propose an updated "mapping" and knowledge of the international standards required of our governments are two permanent instruments for the defense and promotion of life and territory. With these two instruments, the Church, through the commissions of Justice, peace and care of creation and of the Episcopal Conferences, can carry out a permanent enforceability before international bodies, always in defense of the lives of weaker and territory.
  7. Violence of all kinds and, especially towards the woman and the sister "mother earth", require special attention. Concern has arisen about a possible relationship between violence against women and violence against land . All demand greater prophetic denunciation from the Church and greater protection and solidarity.

Spanish C

  1. A prophetic church starts from the recognition of fundamental equalityin rights, conditions, and duties with respect to all human beings. It is important that the services entrusted to women do not keep them away from the instances where decisions are made in the Church, since it is there that what we preach comes true. Given the tradition of the Church, it is possible to recognize women access to the instituted mysteries of the lectorate and the acolyte, as well as the permanent diaconate.
  2. We also find that many of the ecclesial communities of the Amazon territory have enormous difficulties in accessing the Eucharist. However, the Holy Spirit continues to act within these communities and distribute gifts and charisms, so that there are also married men of good reputation, responsible, example of civic virtues and good community leaders, who feel in the call to serve the people of God as instruments of the sanctification of the people of God. It will be important to discern, through consultation with the people of God and the discernment of the ordinary of the place, the desirability of these people preparing adequately and subsequently chosen for the presbyteral service. It is not a priesthood of a lower grade, nor a simple functional resource for the celebration of the Eucharist but of true priestly vocation.

Spanish D

  1. We are urged in this perspective, to confer ministries for men and women in an equitable manner, to those who have the possibility , maturity, virtue and adequate training and when deemed appropriate and therefore, officially recognize services that are already provided or they could be provided, whether temporary or permanent, such as: permanent deacons, reconcilers, reader is, delegates of the word, translators, catechists, animators of the community, charities, ministers of communion, exorcist-healer, narrators, caretaker of the common house and many others, which according to the contexts or needs are required depending on the mission. We make a special mention to the recognition of women who in fact already provide an invaluable service. In fact, there are already experiences of ministerial Churches that it is necessary to know, that we could evaluate and learn from them, which point us to a possible path. And in this sense, affirming that celibacy is a gift for the Church, it is requested that from the communities, the presbyteral ordination of virtuous persons, presented by their own communities and respected by it, be promoted.
  2. A pastoral extolling a preferential option for the indigenous is necessary.
  3. We need to consolidate an indigenous theology and Amazonian rites, that is, a theology and a liturgy with an indigenous face, based on the spiritualities of the original peoples and their religious and mystical experiences.

Spanish E

  1. We propose the creation of a Pan-amazonic socio-pastoral watchdog in coordination with CELAM, the justice and peace commissions of the dioceses, CLAR and REPAM.
  2. We propose the preferential option for indigenous peoples, being one of the most vulnerable groups (Cf. Puebla), the Church is committed to decisively promoting quality Bilingual Intercultural Education for these peoples. At the same time, it encourages a network alliance of universities specialized in Amazonian sciences and an intercultural higher education for indigenous peoples.  
  3. Regarding the mission of women in the Church, it is proposed to establish an official ministry of women in the Church (cf. IL. 129 a3), encouraging and encouraging participation in ecclesial leadership that does not require the sacrament of orders; and guaranteeing in each space once more comprehensive and relevant in the area of training: theology, catechesis, liturgy and school of faith and politics,greater participation in the formation of seminarians (IL 129 c2). Take up the theological reflection on the diaconate of women in the perspective of Vatican II (cf. LG 29, AG 16 IL 129 c2). Rethink the ministerial structure of the whole Church, thanks to the unique style of women, of walking with and for the people. Economically value the ecclesial work of women, thus guaranteeing their rights and overcoming any kind of stereotype (IL 146 e).
  4. Inculturation of the liturgy: to form commissions in charge of preparing an Amazonian rite, biblical translations in the native languages, as well as favoring and accompanying expressions of popular piety .    
  5. Establish a post-synodal, permanent and representative ecclesial organism of the Amazon, attached to CELAM. This organism, with a simple but efficient structure , will be the channel of the new paths of evangelization and integral ecology in the Amazon and, in turn, the link that articulates other initiatives linked to this end. It will have as executive body the REPAM.

Italian A

  1. It is necessary to support integral education proposals, specific research on the economic vocation of the various Amazonian regions, public policies to promote solidarity and cooperative economy, local and self-managed production initiatives, the leadership of small communities, microcredit and local technical training.
  2. We must distinguish between the "indigenous" Church, which considers the natives as recipients of pastoral tasks, and the "indigenous" Church, which includes them as protagonists of their own experience of faith. We must definitely aim at an indigenous Church, according to the principle "Save the Amazon with the Amazon [people]".
  3. Promote symbols and gestures of local cultures as valued in the liturgy of the Church in the Amazon, preserving the substantial unity of the Roman rite, since "the Church does not want to impose a rigid uniformity in what does not affect the faith or the good of the whole community, also in the liturgy "(SC 37).
  4. Listening to and respecting the voices of the synodal phase of consultation, we welcome with apostolic zeal their desire to celebrate the Holy Eucharist in a frequent and, possibly, stable way, as an inalienable right of the lay faithful (CIC 213). Many churches in the Amazon still live a faith based solely on Scripture and popular piety. We need to study pastorally more effective ways of responding to this insistent appeal. Some synod fathers ask that in Christian communities with a consolidated path of faith mature, respected and recognized, preferably indigenous, single or with a constituted and stable family be ordained, in order to ensure the sacraments that guarantee and sustain the Christian life. Canon Law allows the Holy See to request a dispensation from the impediment to the Sacrament of the Order of a legitimately and validly married man (CIC 1047 §2.3). The Permanent Diaconate, re-established by Vatican II, shows that it is possible to effectively assume a pastoral, sacramental and family commitment in the Church. Most of the Eastern rite churches that are part of the Catholic Church retain the married clergy (PO 16). This proposal is based on sacred Scripture, in the apostolic letters (1 Tim 3: 2-3,12; Tit 1: 5-6). Other synod fathers consider that the proposal concerns all continents, could reduce the value of celibacy, or make the missionary impulse to serve the most distant communities lose. They believe that, by virtue of the theological principle of synodality, the theme should be subjected to the opinion of the whole Church and therefore suggest a universal Synod in this regard. Everyone recognizes that celibacy in the Church is a gift and a treasure (PO 16, OT 10). It is part of the Christian novelty and should also be proposed to the Amazonian populations. It is necessary to keep alive the missionary zeal and the zeal in vocation promotion, to cultivate a vocational culture, without resigning, with insistence and organization. In coherence with the call "Latin America, evangelize yourself!", we appeal to the Episcopal Conferences of the continent to strengthen projects of cooperation and communion between churches and send new missionaries to the Amazon, even among those who currently exercise priestly service in the north of the world. Formation in the ordained ministry, intended to configure the priest to Christ, must be a community school of fraternity, experiential, spiritual, pastoral and doctrinal, in contact with the reality of the people, in harmony with the local culture and religiosity, close to the poor , based on the perspective of integral ecology and a synodal style of authority, which values ​​and stimulates participation in community life.
  5. The fabric of the local church, also in the Amazon, is guaranteed by the small ecclesial missionary communities, which cultivate faith, listen to the Word and celebrate together, close to the history of the people. It is the church of baptized women and men, which we must consolidate by promoting ministry and above all awareness of baptismal dignity.
  6. We propose that (a) the ministry of the lettorato and acolitato also be conferred to women, religious or lay, adequately trained and prepared; (b) according to the motu proprio of Pope Paulo VI Ministeria Quaedam , the Episcopal Conferences of Amazonia ask the Holy See to create a new instituted ministry, coordinators / coordinators of communities.

Italian B

  1. In this context, the theme of the inculturation of faith widely developed in our circle has all its value. Starting from this theme, the proposal of an "Amazon Rite" was presented. There are about 23 different rites in the Catholic Church, a clear sign of a tradition that from the first centuries has tried to inculturate the contents of the faith and their celebration through a language that was as coherent as possible with the Mystery to be expressed. All these traditions originated according to the mission of the Church (see CCC 1200-1206). The Amazon with its different cultures and traditions has already opened up to the faith and is experiencing a significant process aimed at safeguarding the expressions of identity and belonging that are proper to it. It is necessary for the Church to recognize this peculiar historical moment, and in its tireless work of evangelization it is necessary for the process of inculturation of the faith to be expressed with the most coherent forms to be celebrated and lived according to the languages ​​of the Amazonian populations. Therefore, we ask that the Synod take up the request according to which the peoples of the Amazon can undertake the new path of their own "Amazonian Rite" with which to express the liturgical , theological , disciplinary and spiritual heritage that belongs to them, with particular reference to what Lumen Gentium affirms for the Eastern Churches (see LG 23).


  • We have made contributions so that the Amazonian Bishops can continue their synodal journey more regularly and fully exercise their mission and responsibility, being close to their people and willing to take bold initiatives. They are the successors of the Apostles!
  • The Church must be prophetic. But this is not enough. Some say we need to meet with the government, the industrialists, the mining and oil companies. Others say that you have to set an example of a different way of life, more respectful of the land and that you have to reject the "culture of waste." We must address the issues more directly. The weather will increase over the next twenty years. To avoid further increase, we must suppress CO2. How is it possible? We will plant one hundred billion trees. We are two thousand five hundred million Christians.It is impossible? It is very practical. Why don't you ask for it? Western culture has become so individualistic; we are trapped in materialism: put ourselves first, our country first ... The richest countries are also those that suffer the highest rate of murders. Our wealth does not make us happy. We are called to a much more sober lifestyle, reduce our consumption of red meat.    

Bishops Return to the Catacombs

It has been reported that at least 150 bishops will return to the place where the original Catacombs Pact was signed in 1965 to make their own pledges.

Participants of the Amazon Synod will meet this Sunday, October 20, to renew the so-called 'Catacomb Pact', a document signed by more than 40 Latin American bishops on the eve of the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council in 1965. The event took place at the Santa Domitila catacomb in Rome.

The group, organized by Archbishop Erwin Kräutler, C.PP.S, Bishop Emeritus of the Xingu Prelature (PA), will attend a mass around 7 am (2 am GMT). Some members of the Synodal Assembly will travel by caravan to the place that witnessed this historic moment for the Catholic Church, notably for the Latin American Church. The celebration will be presided by Cardinal Mons. Claudio Hummes, OFM, who has oversight of the Synod.

According to one source, so far 150 participants of the synod have adhered to the commitment. But that number is expected to increase by Saturday.

Although the text is based on the 1965 document, it will be called the “Catacomb Pact for the Common House”, with reference to the themes addressed by the Synod for the pan-Amazon region. The event will take place privately and no press participation will be allowed. At the end of the Mass, all participants will be invited to sign the declaration.

According to information gathered by our team, the event was prepared before the beginning of the synod and the signatory bishops held several meetings to compose the new document.

At the time of the original act, in 1965, among the 42 signatories, five Brazilians were present: Dom João Batista da Mota and Albuquerque (1909-1984), then Archbishop of Vitória; Bishop Francisco Austregesilo de Mesquita Filho (1924-2006), Bishop of Afogados de Ingazeira (PE); Bishop José Alberto Lopes de Castro Pinto (1914-2007), Auxiliary Bishop of Rio de Janeiro; Dom Henrique Hector Golland Trindade (1897-1974), Bishop of Botucatu (SP); and Dom Antonio Batista Fragoso (1920-2006), Bishop of Crateús (CE).

One of the creators of this public commitment and collaborator of the text was Archbishop Helder Camara (1909-1999), then archbishop of Olinda and Recife and a reference in the defense of human rights in Brazil. In the text, 13 promises of detachment from material goods and privileges linked to episcopal life were listed.

The pact influenced the emergence of Liberation Theology, a vigilant stance on authoritarian dictatorships in Latin America, and motivated the convening of the Second General Conference of the Latin American Episcopate (Celam), held in Medellin, Colombia, in 1968.

In one excerpt from the letter, the bishops promise to “give all the time, reflection, heart, means, etc., to the apostolic and pastoral service of laboring and economically weak and underdeveloped groups”. The text even speaks of demanding from the authorities “the observance of the laws in favor of justice, equality and the harmonious and total development of the whole man in all men”.

Here are some excerpts from the 1965 document:

"We will seek to live according to the ordinary way of the population, as regards housing, food and the means of transportation"

"We forever renounce the appearance and reality of wealth"

"We will own no real estate, no furniture, no bank account."

"We will entrust the financial management in our diocese to a lay commission"

"We refuse to be called with names that signify greatness and power (Eminence, Your Excellency, Monsignor ...). We prefer Father."

"We will avoid what may seem to confer privileges"

"We will be open to all, whatever their religion"

I wish I could be there for this historic moment. Cheers to the bishops who are making this pledge! May we find ways to follow!

Worst Idea Ever

On Wednesday, Bishop Wellington suggested that what we needed to fill the need in the Amazon for more priests was not a change in the celibacy requirement for the priesthood, but a renewed priesthood and a redistribution of priests to fill the needs of the Amazon.

Who could argue with that?

I can.

I am all for personal holiness, starting with my own.

But, when it comes to men entering the seminary and becoming priests in the Amazonian region, there are few to none. Celibacy is a foreign idea, as Bishop Krautler explained last week.

And a few days ago, it was reported that Bishop Johnny Eduardo Reyes, apostolic vicar of Puerto Ayacucho, Venezuela raised the question about the number of priests in Rome and suggested that one strategy would be to redistribute them to the Amazon along with others.

I certainly agree that Rome probably has an over abundance of priests, but the thought of imposing Roman priests on the Amazon people gives me stomach cramps.

And the Church is not, nor should it be like a corporation simply redistributing priests as if they are sacramental slot machines.

We have seen this corporate mindset in the U.S. where bishops prefer to close and merge churches, shuffling people around and losing many -- as they discount the human and spiritual cost of clinging to a tradition of celibate only, male only priests.

And most importantly, the problem with the redistribution strategy, is that the indigenous people of the Amazon have asked for just the opposite. Knowing the damage that the colonialist missionary model can wreak, they are asking for indigenous priests, who would most likely be married, to serve their communities. That is because they value their culture, their relationships, human connection, and community.

We have a lot to learn from the Amazonian people. Every day I grow in gratitude for their wisdom. May their Spirit thrive!