The Special Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon region called by the Pope for October 2019 shows Francis’ determination to strengthen episcopal collegiality, according to the former Bishop of Xingu, Erwin Kräutler.
The Church could not respond to challenges like those posed by the Amazon region “with authoritarian, top-down solutions. Church teaching does not 'a priori' have ready made answers for every challenge”, said Bishop Kräutler. The Xingu Prelature in the Brazilian Rain Forest, which Krautler served from 1981 until 2015, before he retired, is the largest diocese in the world (142,121 sq miles), has 330,000 Catholics and is served by 30 priests and 67 religious sisters and brothers.
Augustinian Father Miguel Angel Cadenas baptises a young man in a village along the Urituyacu River ©CNS
Many of the small communities in the Amazon region were deprived of the Eucharist as priests could only rarely visit them, Kräutler told Kathpress. Moreover, a majority of these small communities were now headed by women. Bishop Kräutler said he very much hoped that the Pan-Amazon Synod would lead not only to admitting married men to the priesthood but also to ordaining women deacons.
According to a report in the 26 October edition of the German weekly 'Die Zeit', a proposal suggesting that – because of the drastic priest shortage in the Amazon region - proven married men be allowed to celebrate the Eucharist and perform other duties confined to the priesthood, is already lying on the Pope’s desk. Bishop Kräutler is reportedly one of the signatories.
PICTURE: An indigenous member of the Desano ethnic group handles a camera during a meeting in Mitu, Colombia in 2016