Pope Amazon doc doesn't cite married priests

Or women deacons, in disappointment for liberal Catholics

(ANSA) - Vatican City, February 12 - Pope Francis' keenly awaited document on the Church in the Amazon does not mention ordaining married men as priests, defying predictions.
    In Querida Amazonia' (Beloved Amazon), Francis decides against relaxing rules on celibacy for Roman Catholic priests, declining a proposal from bishops that he allow married men to become priests in Latin America's Amazon region to tackle a shortage of clergy there, the Vatican said Wednesday.
    The highly anticipated document on the Amazon bypasses another hot-button issue looming over its publication - the possibility of women deacons - while calling for "outrage" over the treatment of the region's land and its peoples.
    Querida Amazonia, the post-synodal apostolic exhortation, which marks the pope's final reflections on the synod for the Amazon last October and which was released Wednesday, outlines four "great dreams" - social, cultural, ecological, and ecclesial - in which the pope says he hopes to awaken an "affection and concern" for the Amazon for the whole world.
    The 32-page document, the shortest exhortation Francis has penned in his seven-year papacy, he says is meant to serve as a response to the synod's final document, "The Amazon: New Paths for the Church and for Integral Ecology," noting that he does not "claim to replace that text or to duplicate it." Instead, the pope encourages the final document to be read in full, as he says it is the fruit of those who live in the region and "experience its suffering" and "love it passionately." Francis's open-ended language seems to leave open the possibility that in the future married men who have had a "fruitful permanent diaconate" could be ordained as priests in the region, as outlined in the final Synod document - although he does not address the issue directly, only lamenting that "every effort should be made" to ensure people in the region, some of whom only see a priest once or twice a year, have regular access to the sacraments, especially the Eucharist and confession.
    Last year, Pope Francis called for "bold proposals" to meet the spiritual needs of Catholics in the Amazon, a vast region with a scarcity of clerics.
    But in Querida Amazonia, Francis pointedly ignored the boldest one: allowing married priests.
    Instead, Francis' highly anticipated document on the Amazon region focuses mostly on cultural and environmental issues.
    Francis spices the 32-page document with plenty of poetry, but offers few, if any, pragmatic changes for the church.
    The lack of an opening for married priests, or women deacons, is expected to disappoint the Pope's liberal supporters, particularly in the Americas and Europe.
   

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