Catholic bishops from across the Amazon called Saturday for the ordination of married men as priests to address the clergy shortage in the region, an historic proposal that would upend centuries of Roman Catholic tradition, the AP reports. The majority of 180 bishops from nine Amazonian countries also called for the Vatican to reopen a debate on ordaining women as deacons, saying "it is urgent for the church in the Amazon to promote and confer ministries for men and women in an equitable manner." The proposals were contained in a final document approved Saturday at the end of a three-week synod on the Amazon, which Pope Francis called in 2017 to focus attention on saving the rainforest and better ministering to its indigenous people.
The Catholic Church, which contains nearly two dozen different rites, already allows married priests in Eastern Rite churches and in cases where married Anglican priests have converted. But if Francis accepts the proposal, it would mark a first for the Latin Rite church in a millennium. Still, the proposals adopted Saturday also call for the elaboration of a new "Amazonian rite" that would reflect the unique spirituality, cultures, and needs of the Amazonian faithful. Francis told the bishops at the end of the voting that he would indeed reopen the work of a 2016 commission that studied the issue of women deacons. And he said he planned to take the bishops' overall recommendations and prepare a document of his own before the end of the year.
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