Amazon synod: bishops call for relaxed celibacy rule

The participants in the Amazon synod in Rome have called for the ordination of married men as priests. This is the first time in the history of the Catholic Church that an official proposal for the easing of mandatory celibacy has been presented. The new rules would apply for the extensive and remote areas of the Amazon region where the clergy shortage is particularly acute. Is this the start of a revolution?

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Der Standard (AT) /

Good opportunity for a clever pope

With the results of this synod Pope Francis may be able to trigger a major reform of the Catholic Church, Der Standard concludes:

“On the table now is a reform proposal that, astonishingly, has withstood the veto from the conservative camp. This should not be overrated, but nor should it be underrated. The decision now lies with Pope Francis. He can adopt the courageous reform step in its entirety, take on only parts of it - or reject it altogether. Many may now see Pope Francis as a clever tactician. To defuse fierce disputes within the Church and potentially initiate a reform of the entire Church in the process of saving the Amazon region fits in quite well with the tactics of this clever pope.” (DE) /

Shortage of priests is not the only problem

The dropping of celibacy requirements is long overdue, writes:

“In the German Bishop's Conference's abuse study, celibacy was identified as a risk factor for the abuse of minors by clergy members. And every year the Catholic Church is losing talented and committed pastors because they can't - and don't want to - take the vow to live without a wife. To say nothing of those who don't even contemplate becoming a priest because of the celibacy requirement. So there are many good reasons in favour of having married priests. The acute shortage of priests in many regions of the world is just one of them.”

La Croix (FR) /

A spirit of creativity for the good of the Church

La Croix finds another aspect even more decisive than the content under discussion:

“More important than the kind of proposals that were made was the climate that prevailed during the three-week synod, which allowed the bishops gathered in Rome to express themselves on topics that have been taboo for far too long. ... This is a spirit which encourages creativity in finding new answers, for the good of the mission and for Christian congregations. Even if certain disciplinary rules have to be reformed to this end, as the Synod Fathers proposed in regard to access to the priesthood. During this synod the Church has gained an understanding of its own 'biodiversity': a fragile diversity which needs more protective, less homogenous rules.”