Oct. 27, 2019
By Frances D’Emilio
On the heels of a landmark call by Amazon region bishops for married men to become priests, Pope Francis on Sunday exhorted Catholics to be open to fresh ways of evangelization, saying the church must “open new roads for the proclamation of the Gospel.”
He also cautioned against self-righteousness, in an apparent slap at conservative critics who fear he is weakening the church’s foundations.
Allowing married men to be ordained in remote Amazon areas with severe shortages of priests would chip away at the church’s nearly millennium-old practice upholding priestly celibacy. It would also help the church compete with evangelical and Protestant churches that have been increasingly winning converts there.
A three-week-long Vatican gathering, or synod, on the special needs of Catholics in that South American region featured a vote by a majority of the more than 180 synod bishops who proposed the ordination of married men with established families to help minister to the region’s far-flung faithful, where some Catholics don’t see priests for months, even years.
Francis expressed gratitude that the bishops spoke with “sincerity and candor.” He has said he will put his response in writing by year’s end.
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