Querida Amazonia, Pope Francis’ Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation (released yesterday) is, at a first reading, a mostly pleasant surprise. It shows little of the freewheeling radicalism that bulked large – in the synod hall and Vatican gardens, and even on the streets, during the Synod last October. He quotes copiously from his own texts, to be sure, but also from St. John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI. So much so that Cardinal Gerhard Mueller, a powerful voice in current Church debates, has called the Exhortation an effort at reconciliation.
There’s no mention of married viri probati as a remedy for the Amazonian priest shortage – but nothing about priestly celibacy either. Instead, for now, the pope wants bishops in the region to emphasize priestly vocations and the responsibility of priests from the region to stay there instead of heading to North America and Europe. And he invites priests inclined to missionary work to go to Amazonia.
The question of deaconesses is actually turned in the opposite direction to where it seemed headed, again for now. Francis says that innovations along that line would be a “clericalization” – a strongly negative term for him – of the true contributions women have made and continue to make in accord with their true nature, which is noteworthy for “tender strength.”
Click here to read the rest of Robert Royal’s column at The Catholic Thing . . .