Bishops, nuns, priests and residents of the Amazon basin met in Colombia’s capital city in mid-August to prepare for a special Synod of Bishops for the Amazon this fall at the Vatican. Source: CNS.
The meeting gave bishops who will be attending the Synod a chance to develop proposals and listen to residents of the Amazon region, before they head to the Vatican in October for the gathering. Similar pre-Synod meetings have been held recently in Peru and Brazil.
Pope Francis “wants to give visibility to the people of the Amazon and listen to their concerns, their teachings, their spirituality,” said Bishop Joaquin Pinzon Guiza of Puerto Leguizamo-Solano, a vicariate deep in the world’s largest rainforest. “As bishops we don’t just want to take our thoughts to the Synod, but also what lies within our peoples’ hearts.”
The Synod, announced by Pope Francis in October 2017, will focus on how to improve the Church’s work in the vast but sparsely populated Amazon biome, which sprawls across nine South American countries and is largely inhabited by indigenous groups.
Approximately 110 bishops that lead Church jurisdictions in the Amazon will attend as well as representatives of continental episcopal conferences and 32 observers, including indigenous leaders.
One of the topics that will be discussed is the ordination of married men as priests in far-flung villages where Catholics are currently struggling to get sacraments, and even celebrate Sunday Mass, due to the scarcity of qualified Church personnel.
Some Church leaders have criticised the idea of ordaining married men, saying it presents a “breach” with apostolic tradition. But many at the Colombia session seemed to favour the move.
In an interview in the Italian newspaper La Stampa earlier this month, Pope Francis was asked whether the possibility of ordaining older, married men to minister in remote areas would be one of the main topics of discussion at the Synod. He replied, “Absolutely not. It is simply one number” in the working document, a discussion guide that contains 146 items, outlining various topics.