“Think of what this man was saying. It truly shows that the Papacy of Francis I is a liberal Papacy, willing to cast aside even the most cherished Roman Catholic doctrines, just so long as this will enable the Papacy to maintain and indeed expand its influence in the world.”
Francis’ Post-Synodal Document Appears to Reject Married Priests, or Priestesses, in the Future
In Francis’ post-Synodal “Exhortation”, Querida Amazonia, he appeared to squash any idea of married priests, or priestesses. To many this was an odd and unexpected reaction to the Amazon Synod’s proposals, especially as Francis had supported the Synod so fully. What was going on?
His document was a very lengthy one, in which he addressed various aspects of the Synod’s official document. Most of what he said was about various other matters which arose out of the Synod. But eventually he dealt with the matter at hand. Let us examine what he wrote:
“Efforts need to be made to configure ministry in such a way that it is at the service of a more frequent celebration of the Eucharist even in the remotest and most isolated communities… [I]t is important to determine what is most specific to a priest, what cannot be delegated. The answer lies in the sacrament of Holy Orders, which configures him to Christ the priest. The first conclusion, then, is that the exclusive character received in Holy Orders qualifies the priest alone to preside at the Eucharist. That is his particular, principal and non-delegable function…. The priest is a sign of that head and wellspring of grace above all when he celebrates the Eucharist, the source and summit of the entire Christian life. That is his great power, a power that can only be received in the sacrament of Holy Orders. For this reason, only the priest can say, ‘This is my body’. There are other words, too, that he alone can speak: ‘I absolve you from your sins’…. These two sacraments lie at the heart of the priest’s exclusive identity.”
Ignoring at this time the utterly unbiblical nature of everything in the above paragraph, from priests to the mass to the priest supposedly forgiving sins, let us focus solely on what the Roman pope was saying about the Romish priesthood. He was asserting nothing but official Romish doctrine. The priest is, by his ordination, given power (according to Rome) which is not given to any other human being. He has the power to supposedly change bread into the body of Christ (the doctrine of transubstantiation), and the power to supposedly forgive sins. No one else has such power, according to Rome – and Francis was merely echoing received Romish doctrine.
But what must not be lost sight of is the first sentence in the paragraph above! “Efforts need to be made to configure ministry in such a way that it is at the service of a more frequent celebration of the Eucharist even in the remotest and most isolated communities”. This was further emphasised in Francis’ next paragraph: “In the specific circumstances of the Amazon region… a way must be found to ensure this priestly ministry. The laity… need the celebration of the Eucharist because it ‘makes the Church’…. every effort should be made to ensure that the Amazonian peoples do not lack this food [the mass] of new life and the sacrament of forgiveness.” Note: not once did he say anything either for or against married priests!
Now there are only two ways in which this “need” for priests can be met. Either far more priests need to be sent into remote places – something which Francis knows will be extremely difficult, in fact impossible, to accomplish, so long as priestly numbers are so low, for priests are spread very thinly worldwide. Or – the Romish laws and methods for making priests must be relaxed or changed, for example by dropping the requirement for celibacy or a male-only priesthood!
Which one was Francis advocating?
He certainly appeared to be advocating the first. For he went on to say: “This urgent need leads me to urge all bishops, especially those in Latin America, not only to promote prayer for priestly vocations, but also to be more generous in encouraging those who display a missionary vocation to opt for the Amazon region.” And this is what upset so many liberal priests, who want a relaxation of the celibacy laws and for men to be ordained as priests even though they do not meet the strict requirements demanded of priests before now.
But of course Francis would say this, wouldn’t he? After all, this is official Papist doctrine, and he is the pope! A pope would be expected to say such things. And being a Jesuit, he may say one thing – the official line – while possibly plotting quite another. For in the entire lengthy document, although Francis did not affirm the proposal for married priests, he did not close the door to it either!
“Priests are necessary,” he wrote, “but this does not mean that permanent deacons (of whom there should be many more in the Amazon region), religious women and lay persons cannot regularly assume important responsibilities for the growth of communities, and perform those functions ever more effectively with the aid of a suitable accompaniment.”