Pope wants bold changes to stop 'new colonialism' and protect the Amazon

Amazon communities want married priests cardinal tells synod

Amazon communities want married priests cardinal tells synod

Pope Francis on Sunday convened a meeting of bishops to discuss a list of topics - including whether the Catholic Church should ease its policy of celibacy for priests, a 1,000-year-old precedent that is expected to spark a heated debate between adherents of the tradition and proponents who've said ordaining married men would help solve the church's clergy shortage.

"Fires that are motivated by destructive interests, like the one that recently devastated the Amazon, are not in line with the gospel", he said.

He said he was thankful to God "for all these years that I have had as priest, as bishop, as archbishop". It is fed by sharing, not by profits.

The Pope added that "the fire that destroys" always "blazes up when people want to promote only their own ideas, form their own group, wipe out differences in the attempt to make everyone and everything uniform".

"I think that the Pope wanted to make visible the churches that were nearly invisible", said Cardinal Cristobal Lopez Romero, of Rabat, the capital of Morocco, which is overwhelmingly Muslim.

The synod will also reflect on making official roles for women, who already play a central part in the Amazonian Church.

Certainly, the Latin pomp of the Sunday morning Mass at St. Peter's did not reveal anything of Amazonian cultures, except the traditional paintings and feathers of the representatives of the indigenous peoples participating in the Synod, some of whom came with offerings.

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Synod participants vote on a final document, but the pope has the final say on what changes the church will adopt.

Pope Francis' last words were for our brothers and sisters in Amazonia: they are "bearing heavy crosses and awaiting the liberating consolation of the Gospel, the Church's caress of love", he said.

"For them", the Pope concluded, "for these [people] who are giving their life now, for those who have poured out their life, and with them, let us journey together".

Pope Francis is opening a divisive meeting on preserving the Amazon and ministering to its indigenous peoples, as he fends off attacks from conservatives who are opposed to his ecological agenda.

He also warned towards "the greed of new varieties of colonialism".

The most controversial "new path" scheduled for discussion over the next three weeks is the possibility of ordaining married men to serve as priests in the sparsely populated region, where Catholic parishes sometimes go for months without a visit from a priest.

The right-wing nationalist-leaning President of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, whose policies on the Amazon experts believe are responsible for fuelling the recent fires, is also anxious about the synod.

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