By Hannah Brockhaus
The ordination to the priesthood of mature, married men, sometimes called viri probati, is among the topics to be addressed at October’s Amazon synod but is “absolutely not” one of the principle themes of the meeting, Pope Francis said.
In an interview with Italian newspaper La Stampa, published Aug. 9, Pope Francis said the possibility of ordaining viri probati is “absolutely not” among the main topics and is “simply a number of the Instrumentum Laboris.”
“The important themes,” the pope stated, “will be the ministries of evangelization and the different ways of evangelizing.”
Instrumentum Laboris is the name given to the working document published ahead of a synod. The working document for the special assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazonian region was published in June and opened the door for a discussion of the ordination of mature, married men.
In the working document, the discussion of viri probati is listed as a suggestion for “new ministries” alongside the promotion of vocations among indigenous and identifying “the type of official ministry that can be conferred on women.”
“Affirming that celibacy is a gift for the Church, it is requested that, for the most remote areas of the region, the possibility of priestly ordination be studied for older people… even if they have an existing and stable family, in order to ensure availability of the Sacraments that accompany and sustain the Christian life,” one section of paragraph 129 states.
The Amazon synod will be held at the Vatican Oct. 6-27. In the Aug. 9 interview, Pope Francis warned that a synod “is not a meeting of scientists or politicians. It is not a parliament: it is another thing.”
“It comes from the Church and will have an evangelizing mission and dimension. It will be a work of communion guided by the Holy Spirit.”
The pope also called the Amazon synod the “son” of Laudato Si, adding that those who have not read his 2015 encyclical on the environment “will never understand the Synod on the Amazon.”
Laudato Si, he added, is “not a green encyclial, it is a social encyclical, which is based on a ‘green’ reality, the care of creation.”
Francis said he chose to hold a synod specifically on the Amazon because of its “decisive contribution to the survival of the planet” through its production of oxygen and biodiverse vegetable and animal life.
Threats to the Amazon region and its safeguarding derive “from economic and political interests of the dominant sectors of society,” he argued, stating that policy should work to reduce corruption and take responsibility for actions which harm the environment.