June 27, 2019
By Michael Swan
The Vatican put a discussion about married priests on the agenda for the Oct. 6-27 Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon Region. The working document for the Rome meeting calls for “ministry with an Amazonian face” and greater access to the Eucharist in remote communities that rarely see a priest.
Like the Amazon, Canada’s north faces a severe shortage of priests and a complete absence of Indigenous priests.
“The people really do appreciate the sacraments. At this point, they just can’t do that without a priest,” said Bishop Jon Hansen of the Diocese of Mackenzie-Fort Smith.
Hansen’s diocese covers 1.5 million square kilometres and 30,000 Catholics with six parishes, 27 churches and no incardinated priests. Priests currently serving in Canada’s north are on loan for periods of anywhere from six months to two years.
“So I’m constantly on the lookout,” Hansen said.
A conversation in Rome this fall about ordaining married, Indigenous priests for service in their own communities — priests who could offer the Mass fluently in Indigenous languages — has certainly perked up Hansen’s ears.
“I think it would continue to be of interest to me, so I will follow it closely,” he said.
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