03 October 2019, The Tablet

Blueprint for a greener Church


The forthcoming Roman Synod on the Amazon region, with all its “joys and hopes, griefs and anxieties”, is the most striking manifestation so far of Pope Francis’ fundamental approach to reform. This may be why it has stirred vigorous opposition. This is not just because the preliminary documents talk of the possibility of ordaining men who are senior members of their local indigenous communities, who may be married. Such a priesthood could make the difference between a Church that is “visiting”, sending ministers long distances to provide sacramental services, and a Church that is “present”, rooted in the community with the sacraments available. It turns attention in the Church from the centre to the periphery.

The married priests issue has perhaps received too much notice, given that the Catholic Church already has such clergy – particularly English priests who have transferred from the Church of England, but also in Greek Catholic Churches. The theology of the preliminary documents is inspired by Francis, but it is also the voice of the local Church, echoing back his ideas. And it applies his encyclical Laudato Si’ to the region on Planet Earth where it is most needed.

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