Pope dodges call for mar­ried priests

San Francisco Chronicle - - WORLD - By Ni­cole Win­field Ni­cole Win­field is an As­so­ci­ated Press writer.

VAT­I­CAN CITY — Pope Fran­cis refused Wed­nes­day to ap­prove the or­di­na­tion of mar­ried men to ad­dress a short­age of priests in the Ama­zon, sidestep­ping a fraught is­sue that has dom­i­nated de­bate in the Catholic Church and even in­volved re­tired Pope Bene­dict XVI.

Fran­cis, in an ea­gerly awaited doc­u­ment, did not re­fer to the rec­om­men­da­tions by Ama­zo­nian bish­ops to con­sider the or­di­na­tion of mar­ried men as priests or women as dea­cons. Rather, the pope urged bish­ops to pray for more priestly vo­ca­tions and to send mis­sion­ar­ies to a re­gion where faith­ful Catholics in re­mote ar­eas can go months or even years without Mass.

The pa­pal dodge dis­ap­pointed pro­gres­sives, who had hoped he would at the very least put both ques­tions to fur­ther study. It out­raged lib­eral Catholic women’s groups. And it re­lieved con­ser­va­tives who used the de­bate over priestly celibacy to heighten op­po­si­tion to the pope, and saw his duck­ing of the is­sue as a vic­tory.

Fran­cis’ doc­u­ment, “Beloved Ama­zon,” is in­stead a love let­ter to the Ama­zo­nian rain for­est and its indige­nous peo­ples, penned by his­tory’s first Latin Amer­i­can pope. Fran­cis has long been con­cerned about the vi­o­lent ex­ploita­tion of the Ama­zon’s land, its cru­cial im­por­tance to the global ecosys­tem and the in­jus­tices com­mit­ted against its peo­ples.

Groups that ad­vo­cate for women’s or­di­na­tion and giv­ing women greater roles in the church blasted the doc­u­ment. Fran­cis jus­ti­fied his re­fusal to con­sider or­dained min­istry for women as spar­ing them the risk of be­ing “cler­i­cal­ized,” or placed on a pedestal.

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