Amazon inhabitants hope synod will address lack of priests

By Junno Arocho Esteves, 28 September 2019
Amazonia's Witoto indigenous people in Leticia, Colombia. Image: ANSA/Vatican News.


The upcoming Synod of Bishops for the Amazon will focus on the devastating effects of climate change on the environment and on indigenous communities, but it also will look at ways to meet the spiritual needs of the region’s people.

One of the big challenges in evangelisation and ministry is the lack of missionaries and priests, which some people in the region believe can be resolved by the ordaining of married “viri probati,” or men of proven virtue.

The ordination of married “viri probati” would “respond to a concrete challenge in a concrete reality, for example, in the Amazon,” Spanish Bishop Rafael Cob, apostolic vicar of Puyo, told journalists in Quito Sept. 14.

The journalists were on a study trip organised by REPAM, the Pan-Amazonian Church Network, in advance of the synod Oct. 6-27.

“The Amazon is a geographically difficult region to evangelise first because of its distance, its inaccessibility,” the bishop said. But there also is a “lack of candidates who can or want to be priests with that discipline (celibacy). So, logically, the church is looking for new methods to respond to concrete challenges.”

The synod’s 45-page working document, published by the Vatican June 17, suggested studying “the possibility of priestly ordination for elders — preferably indigenous, respected and accepted by the community — even if they have an established and stable family.”

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With thanks to Catholic News Service (CNS) and Junno Arocho Esteves, where this article originally appeared.


The Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon Region will be held in the Vatican from 6 to 27 October. For more information, click here.


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