12 February 2020.
Querida Amazonia, Pope Francis’ official response to the Amazon Synod, demonstrates that the Roman Catholic hierarchy lacks the courage and vision needed to address the real needs of the world and its people, says We Are Church International, a leading advocate for structural change in the largest Christian denomination.
Colm Holmes of Ireland, Chair of We Are Church International praised the Pope for his “wonderful dreams for social, cultural and ecological issues in the Amazon.” Holmes said, “We agree with the Pope that our church has significant responsibility for promoting immediate and significant changes in how the earth’s resources and the lives and cultures of indigenous people are protected. We urge all people to live in ways that reflect good stewardship of our planet, and the fact we are all one human family.”
Holmes went on to say, “It is tremendously disappointing that Pope Francis could not bring the same vision to how our church serves the people of the Amazon region, and indeed all people. Despite the explicit request of the bishops and people from the area, the Pope failed to open priesthood to married men or to consider ordaining women to the diaconate. He proposes vague ‘new forms of service’ for women, but reaffirms the ban on women from ordination, thereby ensuring additional responsibility without accompanying authority. His dreams for changing church structures in the Amazon are discouragingly lacking in specifics. After seven years in office, it seems he talks the talk but does not walk the walk when it comes to enabling the church to fully address the real needs of its members.”
Holmes noted that the document does recognize that changes are needed, even if church leaders do not know how to implement them. “The Pope’s message that our church needs ‘the growth of a specific ecclesiastical culture that is distinctively lay’ indicates acknowledgment that members of the church have taken and will continue to take increasing responsibility for ensuring that their spiritual and sacramental needs are met, without relying on clerics to provide for them. In our Baptism, all are anointed as priests, prophets, and leaders. And all should have the ability to access the full sacramental life of our church, despite the dwindling numbers of ordained priests in many parts of the world. Lay people, including women, will continue to proclaim the gospel, to give homilies, to preside at Eucharist. Change always comes from the grassroots. This will be the full church’s response to the Amazon Synod.”