By Melissa Butz
Months after the October Synod on the Amazon, the pope has decided: married men will not be ordained priests in the Amazon region.
This announcement is part of Pope Francis’ reflections and conclusions from the Amazon synod, contained in a text called “Querida Amazonia,” or Beloved Amazon in English.
It rejects the proposal for married priests made by more than two-thirds of the bishops who participated in the synod.
Despite the shortage of priests in the Amazon region, the Holy Father wants more frequent Masses, so people in the most remote areas can receive the Eucharist.
The pope’s solution is for Latin American bishops to encourage missionary priests to go to the Amazon so they can better understand the region’s cultural realities and serve as shepherds.
Additionally, Pope Francis does not mention the possibility of ordaining women as deacons and rejects the idea of women becoming priests, saying this could “narrow” the Church’s vision.
He instead praises women for all they have done in many roles to keep the Church alive and calls their contributions “indispensable.”
The pope’s main focus in his text are his dreams for the area socially, ecologically, culturally and ecclesiastically. Pope Francis insists on greater participation by laity in sharing the Gospel and most importantly growing in holiness.
The document is first and foremost a love letter by Pope Francis to the Amazon region. It takes up themes of injustice and exploitation, his concern for the poor, protection of cultural diversity and safeguarding the natural wealth and beauty that make up the region.