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    Fr. Joseph Jenkins

  • The blog header depicts an important and yet mis-understood New Testament scene, Jesus flogging the money-changers out of the temple. I selected it because the faith that gives us consolation can also make us very uncomfortable. Both Divine Mercy and Divine Justice meet in Jesus. Priests are ministers of reconciliation, but never at the cost of truth. In or out of season, we must be courageous in preaching and living out the Gospel of Life. The title of my blog is a play on words, not Flogger Priest but Blogger Priest.

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Married Priests & Women Deacons?

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Ordination of Married Men in the Amazon

111. Many of the ecclesial communities of the Amazonian territory have enormous difficulties in accessing the Eucharist. Sometimes it takes not just months but even several years before a priest can return to a community to celebrate the Eucharist, offer the sacrament of reconciliation or anoint the sick in the community. We appreciate celibacy as a gift of God (Sacerdotalis Caelibatus, 1), to the extent that this gift enables the missionary disciple, ordained to the priesthood, to dedicate himself fully to the service of the Holy People of God. It stimulates pastoral charity and we pray that there will be many vocations living the celibate priesthood. We know that this discipline “is not required by the very nature of the priesthood… although it has many reasons of convenience with it” (PO 16). In his encyclical on priestly celibacy, St. Paul VI maintained this law and set out theological, spiritual, and pastoral motivations that sustain it. In 1992, the post-synodal exhortation of John Paul II on priestly formation confirmed this tradition in the Latin Church (PDV 29). Considering that legitimate diversity does not harm the communion and unity of the Church, but expresses and serves it (LG 13; SO 6) which testifies to the plurality of existing rites and disciplines, we proposed to establish criteria and dispositions on the part of the competent authority, within the framework of Lumen Gentium 26, to ordain priests suitable and esteemed men of the community, who have had a fruitful permanent diaconate and receive and adequate formation for the priesthood, having a legitimately constituted and stable family to sustain the life of the Christian community through the preaching of the Word and the celebration of the Sacraments in the most remote areas of the Amazon region. In this regard, some were in favor of a more universal approach to the subject.

Female Diaconate 

103. In the many consultations carried out in the Amazon, the fundamental role of religious and lay women in the Church of the Amazon and its communities was recognized and emphasized, given the multiple services they provide. In a large number of these consultations, the permanent diaconate for women was requested. For this reason the theme was important during the Synod. Already in 2016, Pope Francis had created a “Study Commission on the Diaconate of Women” which, as a Commission, arrived at a partial result based on what the reality of the diaconate of women was like in the early centuries of the Church and its implications for today. We would therefore like to share our experiences and reflections with the Commission and await its results.

My initial concern about the Amazonian synod was that it was a setup to compel the larger Church to permit married priests and to allow for the ordination of women as deacons. The former is certainly possible but the importance of celibacy should not be regarded lightly or merely as a convenient accidental to preserve Church property or to fill vacancies in parishes. The celibate love of the priest is a profound imitation of Christ that makes him into an eschatological sign of the kingdom. With or without a synod, the pope could allow a few stable married men, probably in their 70’s, to be ordained so as to insure the Mass and sacraments. However, any wholesale allowance in the Amazonian churches would likely impact the universal Church. As for the prospect of women deacons, there are three degrees to the one sacrament of holy orders and St. Pope John Paul II has defined infallibly that the Church has no authority to ordain women. Despite the prudential service of women “deaconesses” in the early Church; the ordination of women has always been prohibited.

Final Synod Document

Instead of the Amazonian or world bishops coming together in a democratic fashion, the attendees were appointed by the Holy See. The orchestration of the event was obvious and one might argue that this made any results or recommendations a foregone conclusion. It seemed that certain progressive German bishops ran the show, despite their having no direct investment in the Amazonian churches.  Some have suggested that given the charges of syncretism and idolatry leveled at the peripheral activities around the synod deliberations, any conclusions from the conferences forfeit credibility and importance for any later papal exhortation or summary based upon them.  Is this true?

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