The Catholic Church is experiencing a priest shortage in remote parts of the Amazon, and they’re desperate to fill those roles. The Vatican’s solution to the staffing crisis also gives us a chance to find out what the Church values more when it comes to leadership: a celibate woman or a non-celibate man?
You know the answer…
While affirming that “celibacy is a gift for the Church,” the Vatican document notes that there have been requests to consider, for the most remote areas of the Amazon, “the possibility of conferring priestly ordination on elderly men, preferably indigenous, respected and accepted members of their community.” Such men, the document said, could be ordained “even if they already have an established and stable family.”
Critics of the proposal, titled “Amazonia: New paths for the church and for an integral ecology,” worry that it will erode the importance of celibacy in the priesthood, and see it as indicative of a lack of doctrinal discipline that they believe has marred Francis’ pontificate. They worry it could lead to all sorts of changes that will dilute the orthodoxy of the church.
Diluting the orthodoxy of the Catholic Church may be the only way it survives the child sex abuse scandal and the barrage of people walking out the door because religion isn’t as vital to their lives.
The proposed change to the priesthood would only apply to those parts of the Amazon where enough celibate male priests can’t be found, but it opens the door to allowed married priests in other parts of the world down the line. Considering how many priests have had to hide their sex lives — and how many abused children — allowing married priests into the fold is a wise move. It doesn’t go far enough, but it’s a start. It remains to be seen if those married priests would have the same abilities and responsibilities, within the Church, as regular priests.
There’s nothing special or sacred about celibacy, other than it’s what the Catholic Church has always done. It’s about damn time they got over it, though it’s too bad they’re allowing the exception in such a limited way.
Hey, maybe that Shadow Catholic Church in Kenya can finally get some respect.
(Image via Shutterstock)