Three Key Paragraphs of Amazon Synod’s Final Document

Full texts of the propositions relating to the ordination of married men, a female diaconate and an Amazonian rite, their voting numbers, plus some brief observations.

Cardinal Michael Czerny speaking to reporters at the Vatican after the release of the Amazonian Synod final document, Oct. 26, 2019.
Cardinal Michael Czerny speaking to reporters at the Vatican after the release of the Amazonian Synod final document, Oct. 26, 2019. (photo: Edward Pentin photos)

Here below are the texts of the three most controversial and discussed matters of the synod which wraps up on Sunday (Vatican working translation). 


Female Diaconate 

103. In the many consultations carried out in the Amazon, the fundamental role of religious and lay women in the Church of the Amazon and its communities was recognized and emphasized, given the multiple services they provide. In a large number of these consultations, the permanent diaconate for women was requested. For this reason the theme was important during the Synod. Already in 2016, Pope Francis had created a “Study Commission on the Diaconate of Women” which, as a Commission, arrived at a partial result based on what the reality of the diaconate of women was like in the early centuries of the Church and its implications for today. We would therefore like to share our experiences and reflections with the Commission and await its results. 

Passed by 137 (non placet: 30) 


Ordination of Married Men in the Amazon

111. Many of the ecclesial communities of the Amazonian territory have enormous difficulties in accessing the Eucharist. Sometimes it takes not just months but even several years before a priest can return to a community to celebrate the Eucharist, offer the sacrament of reconciliation or anoint the sick in the community. We appreciate celibacy as a gift of God (Sacerdotalis Caelibatus, 1), to the extent that this gift enables the missionary disciple, ordained to the priesthood, to dedicate himself fully to the service of the Holy People of God. It stimulates pastoral charity and we pray that there will be many vocations living the celibate priesthood. We know that this discipline “is not required by the very nature of the priesthood… although it has many reasons of convenience with it” (PO 16). In his encyclical on priestly celibacy, St. Paul VI maintained this law and set out theological, spiritual, and pastoral motivations that sustain it. In 1992, the post-synodal exhortation of John Paul II on priestly formation confirmed this tradition in the Latin Church (PDV 29). Considering that legitimate diversity does not harm the communion and unity of the Church, but expresses and serves it (LG 13; SO 6) which testifies to the plurality of existing rites and disciplines, we proposed to establish criteria and dispositions on the part of the competent authority, within the framework of Lumen Gentium 26, to ordain priests suitable and esteemed men of the community, who have had a fruitful permanent diaconate and receive and adequate formation for the priesthood, having a legitimately constituted and stable family to sustain the life of the Christian community through the preaching of the Word and the celebration of the Sacraments in the most remote areas of the Amazon region. In this regard, some were in favor of a more universal approach to the subject.   

Passed by 128 (non placet: 41) 


Amazonian Rite

119. The new organism of the Church in the Amazon must constitute a competent commission to study and dialogue, according to the customs and customs of the ancestral peoples, the elaboration of an Amazonian rite that expresses the liturgical, theological, disciplinary and spiritual patrimony of the Amazon, with special reference to what Lumen Gentium affirms for the Oriental Churches (cf. LG 23). This would add to the rites already present in the Church, enriching the work of evangelization, the capacity to express the faith in a proper culture, and the sense of decentralization and collegiality that the catholicity of the Church can express. It could also study and propose how to enrich ecclesial rites with the way in which these peoples care for their territory and relate to its waters. 

Passed by 140 (non placet: 19)


Answering reporters’ questions this evening, Cardinal Michael Czerny S.J., one of the synod’s special secretaries, was asked what “more universal approach” means in proposition 111, relating to viri probati (the ordination of married men in the region). 

Cardinal Czerny replied: “What some people felt was that consulting about this in the Amazon context was not sufficient and they wanted it consulted in a broader context, whereas others felt that the existing norms of canon law of Church, practice and experience allow us to consider this within the context of a specific region, so that was what I’d say was a difference of opinion.” 

This indicates that some in the synod were pushing for a more universal acceptance of the ordination of married men, and this is why, according to sources, a push by other synod fathers for an Amazonian rite was intended to curtail that — to not let it be accepted universally, and to contain it within the Amazonian region.

Asked by the Register for his opinion on theologians who say that a female diaconate is a dogmatic breach of Church teaching, Cardinal Czerny said that is a concern to be “shared” with the study commission that Francis set up in 2016 and that is mentioned in synod proposition 103.    

Another point of interest is the post-synodal apostolic exhortation. In his closing words of the synod, Pope Francis noted he was not obliged to write one, but said he would nevertheless “like to do it before the end of the year, in such a way that not much time passes. Everything depends on time and I have to think.”

Cardinal Czerny had said several weeks ago that he expected the papal document on the synod not to be published until next spring. Usually such documents take a six months or so. So why could it occur so soon?

The answer could be that it is largely already written, which many commentators have suspected (they believe the synod fathers invited, especially the ones chosen directly by the Pope, were known to be sympathetic to the propositions discussed, making the process of writing the concluding documents easier). Or it could be that Francis sees the dangers of such controversial issues left hanging without a definitive papal text. Either way, we’re likely to know what conclusions the Pope draws from this meeting in a relatively short time. 

Meanwhile the so-called mastermind of the synod, Bishop Erwin Kräutler, prelate emeritus of Xingu, Brazil, told the Register he was “happy” with the final document. “It’s what we expected, of course,” he added. Bishop Kräutler has long supported the ordination of married men, and sees a female diaconate as a welcome and possible step to ordaining women as priests, despite the possibility being ruled out by Pope St. John Paul II, and Pope Francis a few years ago. 

Here below is a video of brief comments Bishop Kräutler made to the Register this evening as he exited the synod hall: