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Father Dario Bossi, provincial superior of the Comboni Missionaries in Brazil, Patiachi Taylor and Leah Rose Casimero leave the final session of the Synod of Bishops for the Amazon at the Vatican Oct. 26, 2019. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Members of the Synod of Bishops for the Amazon asked that women be given leadership roles in the Catholic Church, although they stopped short of calling for women deacons.

In the Amazon, like in the rest of the world, the essential roles women play within the family, the community and the church should be valued and recognized officially, members of the synod said in their final document.

The document, which synod members voted on Oct. 26, included a call for the creation of “the instituted ministry of ‘woman community leader,’” something they said would help meet “the changing demands of evangelization and community care.”

"...a call for the creation of “the instituted ministry of ‘woman community leader.’”

Speaking after the vote on the document, Pope Francis said the synod's discussion on women “falls short” of explaining who women are in the church, particularly “in the transmission of faith, in the preservation of culture. I would just like to underline this: that we have not yet realized what women mean in the church,” but instead “we focus on the functional aspect, which is important,” but is not everything.

Synod members also asked Pope Francis to revise St. Paul VI's 1972 document on ministries, “Ministeria Quaedam” (“Some Ministries”), so that women could be installed formally as lectors and acolytes and in any new ministries to be developed.

The final document also asked that “the voice of women be heard, that they be consulted and participate decision making” in the church.

“It is necessary for the church to assume with greater strength their leadership within the church and for the church to recognize and promote it by strengthening their participation in the pastoral councils of parishes and dioceses, or even in instances of government,” the document said.

While noting that a “large number” of participants in the pre-synod consultations asked for women deacons and that several members of the synod itself made such a call, the final document did not include an explicit request for such a move.

Instead, the document asked that Amazon synod members be able “to share our experiences and reflections” with members of the commission Pope Francis set up in 2016 to study the role and ministry of women deacons in the New Testament and in early Christian writings.

When many women are “victims of physical, moral and religious violence, including femicide, the church commits to defense of their rights and recognizes them a protagonists and guardians of creation,” synod members said.

In May Pope Francis told reporters that the 12 theologians and historians on the commission were unable to reach a full consensus on whether “there was an ordination with the same form and same aim as the ordination of men,” but more study was needed.

In his post-vote talk to synod members, the pope gave the same explanation, but promised that he would have the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith “reconvene the commission or perhaps open it with new members.”

Pope Francis originally set up the commission at the request of the women’s International Union of Superiors General, and he told the synod he gave the commission's report to the UISG, but he promised to “pick up the gauntlet” thrown down by women at the synod who asked for further discussion.

Quoting a speech from Pope Paul in 1965, the final document said, “The hour is coming, in fact has come, when the vocation of woman is being achieved in its fullness.”

That is especially true in the Amazon, where women lead communities, educate children, teach the faith, proclaim the Gospel and work diligently to protect the environment and preserve indigenous cultures, they said.

When many women are “victims of physical, moral and religious violence, including femicide, the church commits to defense of their rights and recognizes them a protagonists and guardians of creation,” synod members said.

The document’s discussion on Catholic ministry and mission in the Amazon urged greater formation of lay men and women, emphasizing their baptismal vocation to be “missionary disciples.” Laywomen, like laymen, must be involved in the “small ecclesial missionary communities that cultivate faith, listen to the Word and celebrate together the life of the people.”

Without specifying further, the document said that “it is urgent for the church in the Amazon to promote and confer ministries for men and women in an equitable manner.”

The Pan-Amazonian Church Network, which helped prepare the synod, released a long statement Oct. 26 signed by its president and vice president: Brazilian Cardinal Claudio Hummes, who was relator general of the synod; and Cardinal Pedro Barreto Jimeno of Huancayo, Peru, one of the delegated presidents of the synod.

“The life of indigenous peoples in general, and of women in particular, have given a totally different tone, more alive, renewed and brave to this synod,” they said. “Their clarity, the testimony of their lives, their spiritual connection with the Amazon and their courageous cry for change" have left "an indelible mark on this synod.”

“We still have a long way to go to give these voices the space they deserve,” the cardinals said, highlighting especially the “voice of women” who are “valiantly dedicated to life.”

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Tim O'Leary
4 years 9 months ago

I thought this was a synod on getting the sacraments to the remote people in the Amazon delta, not about Amazonians of Ancient Greece? This article suggests the indigenous peoples were just a pawn in heretical progressive shenanigans.

Douglas Fang
4 years 9 months ago

“…heretical progressive…”. Who is heretical here? Someone who considers himself/herself wiser than the collective wisdom of the Pope and Synod of Bishops working under the guidance of the Holy Spirit? If someone cannot accept that the Holy Spit is working in a mysterious way here and now when there is a gathering of the Synod of Bishops with the Pope in Rome, he/she should not pretend to proclaim the true Catholic faith anymore. If faith is something that is true only when it conforms to your understanding of the revelation of God, no matter how sincere you are, then you act exactly like the Jewish leaders at the time of Jesus, who believed so sure in their thousand’s years of Jewish faith and tradition and condemned Jesus to death.

Tim O'Leary
4 years 9 months ago

Douglas - Don't be a pharisee yourself and chill. I was not referring to the Holy Father about the progressive heretics, but about those who have pushed for overturning infallible teaching. That would be heresy. The ordination of married men is not a doctrinal issue, but one of discipline. The ordination of women to the priesthood is a doctrinal issue, as stated by the Magisterium, the popes (including Francis) and the CDF and therefore to oppose infallible teaching is heresy. Just what in that logic do you not get, if you are Catholic? Also, the Holy Spirit does not "in a mysterious way" contradict Himself. That would be voodoo (seemingly now popular in some heretical progressive circles).

As to criticizing the management or prudence or wisdom of a pope or bishop or priest, that is what you do whenever you criticize the handling of the child abuse scandal or the finances or clerical appointments or whatever. That is never heretical in itself, even if it is not always informed. One can even criticize saints for their mismanagement, as some have rightly done with St. Pope JP II the Great. people are fallible even when saints. The Holy Spirit does not make men perfect when they become pope. he just prevents them from teaching error.

Douglas Fang
4 years 9 months ago

Tim – thank you for your response. It really does confirm my assessment of your type of Catholics…

Tim O'Leary
4 years 9 months ago

You’re welcome Douglas. Likewise.

A Fielder
4 years 9 months ago

Tim, you made a reference to "infallible" teaching. What you should have written is "definitive." I know we are splitting hairs, but they are not the same.

Tim O'Leary
4 years 9 months ago

A Fielder - the definitive means infallible in this case, according to 3 Popes - St. JP II, BXVI & Francis. The most recent reiteration of this "infallibility" was in May 30, 2019 by Cardinal Ladaria, the head of the CDF of Pope Francis, in response to questions on the infallibility of this question "John Paul II referred to this infallibility in Ordinatio sacerdotalis....To hold that it is not definitive, it is argued that it was not defined ex cathedra and that, then, a later decision by a future Pope or council could overturn it," he states. "Sowing these doubts creates serious confusion among the faithful, not only about the Sacrament of Orders as part of the divine constitution of the Church, but also about the ability of the ordinary magisterium to teach Catholic doctrine in an infallible way." See the 3 key references linked below.
Wed May 30, 2019: http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/ladaria-ferrer/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20180529_caratteredefinitivo-ordinatiosacerdotalis_en.html
1995: https://www.ewtn.com/catholicism/library/concerning-the-teaching-contained-in-ordinatio-sacerdotalis-2133
1994: https://w2.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/apost_letters/1994/documents/hf_jp-ii_apl_19940522_ordinatio-sacerdotalis.html

Jim Smith
4 years 9 months ago

In the actual Amazon, there are more than 140 different language groups and thus scores of different pagan cultures and creeds.
So, to talk about the Amazon people is as meaningless as talking about African people.when it comes to particular issues.

We must remember, NONE of the above mentioned language groups ever had the characteristics of the Amazons, the female self-governed military trained warrior princesses; they are the usual male dominated groups ruled by a big man with women and children as property or chattels. DNA studies have shown that up to 40% of the children are fathered by the big man, laboratory tested fact.

Neither the Pentecostals nor the Protestants are ignorant of these things and deal with the evangelistic and catechistic and pastoral challenges appropriately.

Crystal Watson
4 years 9 months ago

So we still can't be deacons, still can't be priests. We can be "community leaders" which I believe means we can do all the scut work. That's the way Pope Francis wants it, so they pleased their boss. The statement that the church "commits to the defense of women's rights" is a joke - the church is one of the main impediments to the rights of women and one of the main examples of institutionalized sexism.

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