However, some say married priests and female ‘ordination’ are still on the table.
Bishop Erwin Kräutler and Professor Paulo Suess – both of whom met Pope Francis in 2014 to lobby for changes in the Amazon region, including married and female priests – have given signs of disappointment in recent interviews about the post-synodal exhortation Querida Amazonia. Both men were members of the pre-synodal council, The Tablet having called Kräutler the main author of the preparatory documents, and Professor Suess as the key member of the drafting committee of the pre-synodal council. Suess and Kräutler are representatives of Liberation Theology in Brazil and have worked closely together for decades. They can be seen as the radical wing of the Amazon Synod, with Kräutler and Suess proposing not only to ordain married priests, but even to “ordain” women to the priesthood and welcoming explicitly pagan rites and symbols in the Catholic Church. Suess even posted, in 2017, a photo of Karl Marx on his Facebook.
Both see that their radical agenda has not been fully supported by Pope Francis in his post-synodal exhortation. Both Suess and Kräutler had been very pleased with the outcome of the Amazon Synod and its Final Document. Suess was optimistic in November 2019, saying that the Pope “needed the synod to go forwards,” that he needed the voice “from the basis,” in order to make changes.
However, as the Jesuit journal America now reports, Bishop Kräutler comments that the new exhortation “fell short of our expectations. We expected the pope to take it a step further, and he didn’t.” As America continues: “he [Kräutler] would not go so far as saying he was disappointed, but he was surprised by the avoidance of a clear decision on the matter of ordaining married permanent deacons.”
That he indeed is disappointed becomes clear when the Austrian missionary bishop adds: “I would say we were surprised by [the] document, since more than two-thirds of the bishops at the synod voted in favor of the ordination of married men.” But Kräutler also insisted that the discussion is now not ended, saying that the Pope “made it clear that this was not the final decision on the issue.”
“We expect that the issue be revisited in the near future,” the bishop explains, adding: “I believe Pope Francis thought the idea was not yet mature to put into practice.”
Here, Paulo Suess is more outspoken about his irritation concerning the papal document. Speaking with the German national radio station Deutschlandfunk, the German professor says that the Pope has pulled back from the reform and thus deeply disappointed people.
“He did not kick [the ball] into the goal,” Suess comments. “I did not expect that, that is to say, I really thought that he would kick that ball into the goal that one had put right in front of his feet.” The theologian thinks that the Pope’s hesitancy is due to “pressures from conservatives in the Vatican.” For Suess, this new document “at times turns into a nightmare,” as reported by the German bishops’ news website Katholisch.de.
The fact that this faction of the Amazon Synod has been disappointed is confirmed by José Antonio Ureta [https://panamazonsynodwatch.info/feature/querida-amazonia-francis-approves-leonardo-boff-throws-fritz-lobinger-into-the-tiber/], an expert in Liberation Theology and a participant at the recent Acies Ordinata prayer assembly in Munich against the German reform plan. In an essay published by Edward Pentin on his website, Ureta entitles: “’Querida Amazonia’ — Francis Approves Leonardo Boff, Throws Fritz Löbinger into the Tiber.” That is to say, he chose not to follow a more radical wing of Liberation Theology while still following another one.
He writes: “Cardinals Burke, Müller, and Sarah (and his co-author, Benedict XVI), as well as the few prelates who fervently defended priestly celibacy, have reason to be satisfied. Now they can look down on promoters of the low-cost priesthood, especially bishops Fritz Löbinger, Erwin Kräutler, and their partners on the German ‘synodal path.’ Schluss! No opening for viri probati or ‘deaconesses.’”
Ureta clearly states that Querida Amazonia “dissociates itself from the concept of ‘inculturation’ promoted by Indigenous Theology – led chiefly by Fathers Paulo Suess and Eleazar López” but adds that it still “adopts the light version of the conciliar constitution Gaudium et Spes.” That is to say, this form of inculturation “consists of a mere adaptation of the Gospel to the understanding of all, expressing Christ’s message in terms appropriate for each culture (note 84).”
Ureta also cautions us when he says: “However, the document’s by far most flawed aspect is its full adherence to the postulates and programmatic agenda of Liberation Theology in its ecological version recycled by Leonardo Boff and assumed by the synod’s documents.” The author also points out that Pope Francis even quotes in his new document the “Chilean Communist Pablo Neruda and Vinicius de Moraes, Brazilian author of a famous poem titled ‘Lord barons of the earth,’ calling for armed struggle [who] are among the poets-prophets who denounce the ‘evils’ of economic development.”
“Worse still,” Ureta continues, “the alternative solutions that Pope Francis proposes correspond to the more advanced collectivist dreams of neo-Marxist anthropologists, who see the tribal life of the jungle as a model for the future world.”
In light of this differentiated analysis of the new papal exhortation, Ureta says that only time can tell us how this document will be used, and concludes for now: “Even if Francis confirmed Leonardo Boff, at least he threw the managers of Löbinger, Kräutler & Suess GmbH into the Tiber. “
And how long this state will last is yet to be seen.
Two other key organizers of the Amazon Synod, Cardinal Cláudio Hummes and Mauricio López (the executive secretary of the Amazon network REPAM), insist that the synod’s proposals – especially the married priesthood – are not yet off the table.
Brazilian Cardinal Hummes stated that ordaining married men to the priesthood “must be developed and completed” following the release of Pope Francis’ new document. López now says that, since the Pope “explicitly presented the final document [of the synod] in his introduction,” one can “hold fast to everything.” He has “not the slightest doubt” that married priests “will come.”
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