Possibility of women deacons proposed on day three of the Amazon Synod

Retired Bishop Erwin Krautler of Xingu, Brazil, speak at a press briefing following a session of the Synod of Bishops for the Amazon at the Vatican Oct. 9, 2019. Also pictured is scientist Carlos Alfonso Nobre, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007. (CNS photo/Paul Haring) Retired Bishop Erwin Krautler of Xingu, Brazil, speak at a press briefing following a session of the Synod of Bishops for the Amazon at the Vatican Oct. 9, 2019. Also pictured is scientist Carlos Alfonso Nobre, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007. (CNS photo/Paul Haring) 

Most bishops who lead dioceses in the Amazon support the ordination of married men of proven virtue, or viri probati, as a way of addressing the lack of priests in the region, said the retired Bishop Erwin Kräutler of Xingu, Brazil, speaking to journalists after a Vatican press briefing on Oct. 9. “I guess that [of] the bishops who are in the Amazon region, two-thirds are in favor of the viri probati,” he said.

At the briefing, Paolo Ruffini, the prefect of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Communication, said that synod members have described the uniqueness of the Amazon region, which has “dioceses as big as nations.” He added, “Viri probati does not mean changing the law of celibacy in the church” but, “depending on the discernment” that takes place in the synod, “this law, like all human laws, can have exceptions in concrete cases.”

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On this point, Bishop Kräutler said there are thousands of indigenous communities in the Amazon that “do not celebrate the Eucharist except perhaps one, two or three times a year.”

“The Eucharist, for us Catholics, is the source and summit of our faith,” the bishop continued. “For the love of God, these people don’t have it!” The bishops in favor of ordaining married men, he said, “are not against celibacy. We just want these brothers and sisters of ours not to have just a celebration of the word but also the celebration of the Eucharist.”

Several speakers at the synod have also proposed the ordination of women to the permanent diaconate.

“The Eucharist, for us Catholics, is the source and summit of our faith,” Bishop Kräutler said. “For the love of God, these people don’t have it!”

At the press briefing, Bishop Kräutler said that two-thirds of the communities in the Amazon are “coordinated and directed by women, so what do we do?” He added, “We hear a lot about announcing the role of women, but what does it mean?… We need concrete solutions. I’m thinking of the women’s diaconate.”

Bishop Kräutler told journalists after the briefing that while he was not sure how many bishops supported this proposal, he believed that “many of the bishops are in favor of the ordination of female deacons.”

When a journalist asked if this proposal were part of a push for the ordination of women as priests, Bishop Kräutler asked rhetorically, “Why are women [not able] to be ordained? Why?” Asked directly whether he supported the ordination of women as priests, he responded, “Yes. Logically.”

But when pressed as to whether the synod would lead to ordaining women as priests, Bishop Kräutler said, “No.”

He added, however, that the synod “may be a step” in that direction.

The Vatican communications team reported that discussions in the synod hall today involved topics like the permanent diaconate, Christian Base Communities, the common priesthood of the faithful through baptism, vocations and formation for ministry, inculturation, migration and “the charisms of women as real ecclesial actors.”

Some synod members have called for the Catholic Church to deepen its theology in a way that would help people recognize “ecological sins.” According to a Vatican News summary of the afternoon plenary session on Oct. 8, members have said that an “ecological conversion” was necessary to ensure that Christians understand the “gravity of sin against the environment as a sin against God, against one’s neighbor and against future generations.”

“No to individualism or indifference that makes us look at reality like a spectator, like looking at a screen,” the summary said. “Yes to an ecological conversion centered on responsibility and an integral ecology that places at its center human dignity, which is too often trampled.”

Through catechesis and particularly in the sacrament of penance, the reality and impact of ecological sins can be explained, Mr. Ruffini said, referring to the words of a synod participant. Like other sins, ecological sins “can be considered either minor or grave, but in any case they offend God and neighbor.”

Ecological conversion is, first and foremost, “a conversion to holiness,” one synod member said, citing the examples of Rudolf Lunkenbein, a German Salesian priest, and Simao Cristino Koge Kudugodu, a lay member of the Bororo indigenous community in Mato Grosso, Brazil, where Father Lunkenbein served. The German priest, known for his defense of indigenous land, was shot and killed in 1976 in the courtyard of the Salesian mission where he lived. Koge Kudugodu died attempting to save Father Lunkenbein’s life and, with his final breath, forgave his murderers.

For this synod, Pope Francis has invited a dozen “special invitees,” including Ban Ki-moon of South Korea, the former secretary general of the United Nations; Jeffrey D. Sachs, a professor of sustainable development at Columbia University; and Josianne Gauthier of Canada, the secretary general of the International Cooperation for Development and Solidarity.

Special invitees have appeared at two consecutive Vatican press briefings. On Oct. 8, it was Victoria Lucia Tauli-Corpuz, the U.N. special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples. Ms. Tauli-Corpuz, an indigenous leader from the Kankanaey Igorot people of the Cordillera Administrative Region in the Philippines, strongly emphasized that the rights of indigenous people must be protected, and that the Catholic Church is a moral authority that must speak out when violations of human rights are taking place. Later she added, “The results of this synod will have a very long effect in protecting the rights of indigenous and in protecting the environment.”

On Oct. 9, the briefing included Carlos Nobre, a Brazilian scientist who was part of the team that won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007, having contributed substantially to the Fourth Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Presently, he is a member of the Environmental Science Commission of the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development in Brazil. In the press briefing, he made several references to Pope Francis’ encyclical “Laudato Si’” and said that because this synod called for the contribution of science, a group of scientists had prepared a 10-page document about the “risks and solutions” in the Pan-Amazonian region, the “ecological heart of this planet.”

With content from Catholic News Service.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
John Placette
1 month 1 week ago

To avoid trying to circumvent Ordination Sacrdotalis, why not create a special class of Instituted Acolytes as bearers of the Eucharist (consecrated by a priest, of course) and as lay leaders. These could be male or female. You create ministers for the people without compromising Holy Orders.
Occam's razor.

Deborah Wells
1 month 1 week ago

I was thinking something similar upon reading this. Why can't Eucharistic Ministers (already lay leaders) distribute consecrated hosts to the assembly? Even if a Mass can't take place, at least this would fulfill the desire to receive the Eucharist. We have prayer services here in the US that proclaim the Liturgy of the Word followed by the distribution of blessed hosts. Am I missing something? Is this too simple of a solution - at least a partial one? This would not require the ordination of older married men.

On another note, I am going to stray from your thinking about circumventing Ordination Sacrdotalis. So we have 2/3rds of the Amazon communities directed by women, but they are not worthy of full participation in the ministry. Bishop Kräutler said he believed that “many of the bishops are in favor of the ordination of female deacons.” And when asked whether he supported the ordination of women as priests, he responded, “Yes. Logically.” But will the Synod lead to this? "No." Then I loved this line about the topics of some of the Synod's discussions - “the charisms of women as real ecclesial actors.” Talk about theology-speak from males. Why do men have such a hard time wrapping their heads around the idea of ordained women rather than only as ecclesial actors? We refer to the Church as "she" and as a mother, therefore it seems to me that the characteristic of femininity is of her essence.

Bill Niermeyer
1 month 1 week ago

Eucharist Ministers as a step toward Holy Orders allow them to conduct a Eucharist Service if a Priest or Deacon is not present or able to do it. So I would think this could be a possible answer. I still think that region needs priests and they need to come from that community. A married priesthood for them might answer the call.

Eternal Life
1 month 1 week ago

Church referred to as 'she' or 'mother Church' but in practice it suddenly changes to "He" or "Father Church"...patriarchy instead of matriarchy.

Michael Bindner
1 month 1 week ago

Too late to close the barn door. Occam would day that his razor should cut a few throats and ordain women. Much simpler than spitting in the wind.

Michael Bindner
1 month 1 week ago

The easiest solution to any problem is admitting the past is in error. No one else needs to be convinced.

Vince Killoran
1 month 1 week ago

Why all the institutional gymnastic to avoid allowing women to be priests? There is no "compromising of Holy Orders." It is time for this change.

Nora Bolcon
1 month 1 week ago

Because Ordination Sacrdotalis is not a dogma and therefore can be changed and it outright demands we sin against the humanity of women by demanding we treat women differently than men which Christ himself commanded no person can do without committing harm and sin. This makes Ordination Sacrdotalis an anti-christian document and rule and therefore it is not possible to have come via the Holy Spirit. When any group of Christians is made to choose between supporting Gospel Commands of Christ or the combined patriarchal designed rules and traditions of the past and recent men, even popes, of the hierarchy, and they choose to break the first to uphold the latter, they sin a mortal sin of idolatry. The definition of idolatry is to hold any person's or group of persons' more powerful by nature, or truer in word, or in higher esteem than the one you espouse as your God.

Mark 7:5- 5 So the Pharisees and scribes questioned Jesus: “Why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders? Instead, they eat with defiled hands.” 6 Jesus answered them, “Isaiah prophesied correctly about you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘These people honor Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me. 7 They worship Me in vain; they teach as doctrine the precepts of men. 8 You have disregarded the commandment of God to keep the tradition of men.” 9 He went on to say, “You neatly set aside the commandment of God to maintain your own tradition.…

Matt 7:12 Jesus stated to his disciples so, "In everything, then, do to others as you would have them do to you. For this is the essence of the Law and the prophets."

Matthew 22:36-40 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

We sin while we uphold any traditions, rules, customs, sacraments of bias or discrimination based on an individuals flesh. This discrimination always results in oppression of the discriminated group and that is why Jesus demands we do not discriminate or treat differently any one from how we would wish to be treated. Bishops who would not want to be rejected because of how they were born in the flesh from priestly ordination, or any other ordination, sin while they discriminate against others for these reasons. Jesus never stated it was acceptable to treat women any differently than men so therefor we break the command to love one's neighbor while we allow this bias against women being ordained priests and bishops to continue.

Tim O'Leary
1 month 1 week ago

Nora - notice none of your Scripture quotes have anything to do with priestesses. You seem to read the word "same" or "exact same" into the do onto others. You even misquoted scripture in a recent post as a commandment from Jesus to "treat all people exactly the same." So, you just make stuff up and claim you are quoting Scripture.

Tim O'Leary
1 month 1 week ago

John - I have a better idea. Pope Francis can gather all the Jesuits around the world and send them to the Amazon to minister there. That could solve two problems in one act.

Tim O'Leary
1 month 1 week ago

Bishop Kräutler's statement quoted above for ordaining women as priests is not only heterodox. It also undermines the idea of making women deacons. The Holy Spirit works in mysterious ways. The more liberal and outright non-Catholic attendees advocate for something against Catholic discipline or doctrine, the harder it will be for the revolutionaries to get their way. Pope Francis has been much clearer on the settled teaching regarding priestesses.

Michael Bindner
1 month 1 week ago

Not ordaining married men and imposing sacred Continence is heterodox, as is Roman primacy. That is stuff Rome made up to break away from ancient Catholic practice. The local patriarch can ordain or not ordain women. Since Melios and the Great Synod affirmed Anglican orders, Canterbury is a defacto patriarchy. It ordains women. There is a difference between can't and won't that amounts to superstition. Superstition is a fear of doing what is obviously right and pinning the blame on God.

Tim O'Leary
1 month 1 week ago

Michael - are you a Seventh Day Adventist or an Anglican? Nothing you say is consistent with Catholic teaching.

Nora Bolcon
1 month 1 week ago

By Golly Tim - You have finally Got it! The problem is the Catholic Teaching! All teaching and rules need to reflect the commandments and teachings of Christ or CHANGE because upholding a tradition or law that is anti-Gospel is not only not divine, it is harmful and sinful for the church to continue.

But can a Real Catholic protest Catholic teachings, traditions or laws in order to inspire change and remain a Real Catholic? The answer is Yes! Ta da! This is allowable! even under current Real Catholic Church Laws and Canons.

In fact, there have been Catholic laws, traditions and teachings that have changed throughout our church's history because they were proven to be flawed or not constructive, or righteous to keep in place.

Tim O'Leary
1 month 1 week ago

Nora - at least you accept that the Catholic Church has always taught that only men can be priests. As with a host of beliefs (abortion, homosexuality, infallibility, priesthood, etc. etc.) you claim to have discovered the true faith and your mission is to change the Church, and even the long-standing interpretation of Scripture, if that is needed to meet your political desires. So, your argument is follow the Church of Nora (or Vince, or Crystal, or Michael, or Deborah, or 30,000 others) and deny the Catholic Church. Why is that different from a Seventh Day Adventist?

There were many priestess around in the pagan world and Jesus could have chosen them. But, He explicitly did not, for doctrinal reasons. He was teaching the world something about men and women. He wasn't afraid to challenge the status quo. So many refused to believe Him then, and they continue to not accept Him today.

Nora Bolcon
1 month 1 week ago

Amen Michael! I know - we got ourselves a little of the Adam delinquency going on in this traditionalist papal argument. Translation: Its not my fault God - you made woman and isn't it obvious she is inferior to me? - (maybe you didn't say so but the snake is sure of it!). Just like how you, God, are the one that made Eve tempt me so you are the reason I betrayed you really. Lets face it God - none of this has anything to do with men behaving badly - it is really all about what an unfair and flawed creator you are.

Michael Bindner
1 month 1 week ago

Sometimes it takes necessity to listen to what Shekinah has always said. We must also face the misogyny inferent in Sacred Continence and the fact that sexual identity is a distinguished reality, not a decision or a choice. We are 20 funerals away from choosing reality.

Christopher Scott
1 month 1 week ago

Why does anyone care about this? Episcopalian and Methodist churches already exist, why bother the Catholics?

Michael Bindner
1 month 1 week ago

Because the hierarchy forgets that we are all the Church. Catholics don't leave. We demand truth.

Allan McWilliams
1 month 1 week ago

Since when does anything supersede the central importance of providing the Eucharist to the faithful, no matter the circumstances? "Feed my sheep!"

Bill Niermeyer
1 month 1 week ago

Woman Deacons would be a nice thing to do but they really need priests and they need to bring these men out from the community from which they live and of needed either be married or allowed to marry.

Phil Lawless
1 month 1 week ago

All of these comments are directed towards the Amazon synod for sure. Why do we not realize they are also applicable to the Church Universal? Or do we have to realize that fact to be certain that they will not be applied anywhere.

I may suggest that the Mormon Church has demonstrated that their relationship with God has given them the freedom to change previously immutable doctrines to accommodate new insights.

Do we think the Holy Spirit may no longer enlighten us in a similar manner?

Jim Smith
1 month 1 week ago

DID YOU KNOW?
For more than a quarter-century, scientists and the general public have updated their view of the Americas before European contact. The plains and the Eastern forests were not a wilderness, but a patchwork of gardens, they’ve found. The continents were not vast uninhabited expanses but a bustling network of towns and cities. Indigenous people, we’ve learned, altered the ecology of the Americas as surely as the European invaders did.

Now, an expansive new study suggests that the human fingerprint can even be seen across one of the most biodiverse yet unexplored regions in the world, the Amazon rainforest.

For more than 8,000 years, people lived in the Amazon and farmed it to make it more productive. They favoured certain trees over others, effectively creating crops that we now call the cocoa bean and the brazil nut, and they eventually domesticated them. And while many of the communities who managed these plants died 500 years ago, the effects of their work can still be observed in today’s Amazon rainforest.

Did you know a third of the population is Protestant or Pentecostal or Spiritualist and a large proportion are of European decent?

Luis Gutierrez
1 month 1 week ago

Ordinatio Sacerdotalis is not a dogma. It is time to ordain celibate women to the priesthood and the episcopate.

Thomaspj Poovathinkal
1 month 1 week ago

Mother Mary was QUEEN of the Apostles. IF she could give BIRTH to the SON of God as a Virgin, WHY not transubstantiate the wheat Bread into the Body of Christ?

WHICH is a LESSER MIRACLE, executing the Birth activity of Full body of live Flesh of Jesus Babe or the Sacramental Body Jesus? IF Mother Mary could execute the Greater, why NOT the lesser?

In ANY TRUE Apostle, Priesthood is INCLUDED in the Apostleship, DOES anyone make an exception in the case of Mother Mary?

Eternal Life
1 month 1 week ago

TIME TO REFORM THE CHURCH TEACHINGS

First, why not lay a long term strategic and sustainable plan to train hundreds or even thousands of Amazonian priests to sustainably serve the indigenous population in Amazon, while enough missionaries continue to serve there until the maturity of the above proposed plan.

Trying to tamper with the doctrinal teachings of the church in solving Amazonian ecclesial issues is tantamount to speaking from both ends of the mouth.

Using intellectualized languages to explain away doctrinal teachings of the church is self-indicting.

The church can't continue to violate its own teachings every now and then, and in fact at will, hiding under weird explanations.

The teachings of the church
aren't ambiguous but I suspect there is now a deliberate effort to make them one.

If the church wants a reform, then let's reform those teachings first and foremost, before applying them on certain circumstances as we now have in Amazon...and not cart before the horse.

The teachings of the Catholic church on clerical celibacy and ordination of women are very clear. This clarity is being planned for violation in Amazon by the church herself using weird explanations.

I'm not against any logical reform including women ordination as priest, non-celibate priesthood alongside celibate one with laws regulating each choice and host of other reforms.

The church should adapt to contemporary realities.
And by the way , our Lord Jesus Christ availed His church the power and freedom to do all that through the counselling of the Holy Spirit.

JOHN GRONDELSKI
1 month 1 week ago

While some theologians have been downplaying REAL mortal sins (contraceptive intercourse, artificial reproduction of children) we are now going to be told to confess "ecological mortal sins." I think not. Try teaching REAL Catholic theology.

Crystal Watson
1 month 1 week ago

Ordain women as deacons and as priests. If women can be ordained deacons, there's no reason they can't be priests too.

Nora Bolcon
1 month 1 week ago

Amen Crystal - and ordained bishops and made into Cardinals and yes even be elected popes. Time to end the hate by calling it out for what it is "HATE". Until you can name the demon it is hard to cast it out.

John Placette
1 month 1 week ago

John Paul II spoke definitively in Ordination Sacrdotalis.

John Placette
1 month 1 week ago

John Paul II spoke definitively in Ordination Sacrdotalis.

Crystal Watson
1 month 1 week ago

Right, JPII, that infallible saint who was buddies with Marcial Maciel - let's follow his advice blindly (not).

John Placette
1 month 1 week ago

Regarding magisterial teaching, St. John Paul II definitively stated ordained priests could only be men : "Wherefore, in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church's divine constitution itself, in virtue of Our ministry of confirming the brethren.[4] We declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church's faithful"

Have you read the document?

You may disagree with it, but there is no doubt what he meant.

Michael Barberi
1 month 1 week ago

Anyone with some education in theology, or those who follow these Synods and Pope Francis's vision for the Catholic Church, should not be surprised that these issues are being debated. Francis will likely permit women deacons and the ordination of married men into the priesthood in the Amazon. This may likey lead to a broader debate about the application to other regions of the world that suffer from an inadequate number of priests and other problems.

Crystal Watson
1 month 1 week ago

Actually, I am surprised. Francis has said a number of times that women would *never* be priests in the Catholic church, and he has made it clear that he doesn't think they should be ordained deacons either. I don't think Francis envisions women as equals in the church, and I don't think he will agree to it now, although he might go for married male priests in a restricted area.

John Placette
1 month 1 week ago

It is not a matter of women being equal in the church. There seems to be a notion that with ordination comes power. It is just the opposite. With ordination, comes humility. I guarantee you, there are women within the church today that wield more power than any priest or any deacon. From a personal standpoint, if I had been looking for power at the parish level I sure didn't find it in my ordination as a deacon - that's for sure.

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