Priests in the Amazon region is estimated to be as low as one priest for every 10,000 Catholics
The shortage of priests in the Amazon region is estimated to be as low as one priest for every 10,000 Catholics . This is making the Roman Catholic Church consider a change to a centuries-old norm, which states that one of the requirements of being a priest is to be celibate.
The proposal was brought to light on Monday when the Vatican released a document for a meeting in October with South American bishops.
The document acknowledges that “celibacy is a gift for the Church.” It adds that there have been requests, for the most remote areas of the South American region, the Church discusses the possibility of ordinating elderly men. The preferred members of ordination would be indigenous, respected, and accepted members of their communities.
The document goes on to say that men in the region can become priests regardless “if they have an established and stable family so, in order to guarantee the sacraments that accompany and sustain Christian life.”
Bishops will discuss this recommendation from the Amazon at a gathering at the Vatican in October. The possibility of ordaining “viri probati” which is Latin for “men of proven virtue” will be discussed as mentioned by a document for the event.
A recommendation has also been given to discuss more significant roles for women in the Amazon to within the Catholic Church. The document acknowledged that the feminine presence isn't valued as it should be.
In the past, Pope Francis has said that he welcomes the idea of allowing the ordination of married men where there is a scarcity of priests. In addition to this, Pope Francis has also considered “allowing space for women in the Church at all levels.”
Church membership in Europe and North America have seen sharp declines as well as sexual abuse scandals in the last couple of decades. The Church is also facing a shortage of priests. Some priests in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa where the Church is flourishing have been move to fill the open posts.