A meeting with Vatican Bishops in October last year raised the question of ordaining some married men in the Amazon as priests to overcome a shortage of clergy in the region. The meeting ended up in a proposal to ordain as priests suitable and respected men of the community which alarmed conservatives members of the Roman Catholic Church, who feared it could lead to a change in the centuries-old commitment to celibacy among priests, among them, retired Pope Benedict who went ahead to write articles and books in favor of celibacy.
The meeting was informed by Pope Francis call out for bold proposals to meet the spiritual needs of Catholics in the Amazon, a vast region with a scarcity of clerics but in a papal document released Wednesday, the pope has ignored the boldest of the proposals, a response expected to disappoint his liberal supporters, particularly in the Americas and Europe.
In the document, the Pope said that only a priest can preside at the Eucharist and Mass is a non-delegable function adding that it is a narrow aim to be concerned only with a greater presence of ordained ministers who can celebrate the Eucharist. He called on nuns and lay Catholics to assume important responsibilities in their church communities and urged bishops in Latin America to pray for priestly vocations in the Amazon.
About women being ordained as deacons in the Catholic Church which was part of the proposal, he termed the suggestion as narrow and one that would clericalize women by trying to give them the same function as men instead of recognizing their specific female gifts, and suggested that women should have access to positions that do not require them to be ordained priests or deacons and other forms of services that are proper to women.