The Pope wants another church. A church that works for ecology and the poorest. But Francis does not want the reforms expected in Europe and North America, says Christoph Strack.
A strong text. And a big disappointment. With his letter “Querida Amazonia” (Beloved Amazonia) on the Amazon Synod, Pope Francis is denying all hope of limited openings in the face of pastoral emergencies. In times when male clericalization dominates the church, he warns against the “clericalization of women”, distances himself from a consecration of deacons and advocates “other specifically female ministries and opportunities”. He also does not take up the possibility of admitting married men within the narrow limits as priests (which would not be a problem dogmatically) and appeals to the church in other countries to send priests as missionaries.
All of this is not only sobering for many women, for advocates of church reforms in Europe or the USA. It also leaves unanswered corresponding suggestions from the Amazon Synod of October 2019, to which the bishops involved in Rome at that time had each agreed with a clear two-thirds majority.
The Church should fight for the poorest
And still a strong text? Yes, in those passages in which Francis addresses the “ecological crisis” in the Amazon region, he takes up the “cry of the earth” and calls on the church to “option for the poorest”. There Francis puts himself and the church on the side of the indigenous peoples on the Amazon complains of crimes and colonial interests, overexploitation of wood, endangerment of further natural resources. He made repeated, equally clear statements, spoke also of his predecessors, and the Synod 2019 even more clearly about the situation on the Amazon: about exploitation, enslavement, and violations of human rights. The Pope commits the Church worldwide to stand up to it.
But the letter to the Pope is disappointing for those who had hoped for limited changes in church teaching and practice. Sure, here and there theologians now formulate words of consolation, explaining that when it comes to reforming issues, doors have not been closed, that Francis strengthens the “moral authority” of the final synod document of October and warmly recommends its reading and implementation.
All well and good. But the Synod of Bishops and now the Pope also deal with sensitive issues like hot potatoes that are thrown up in a snap. Neither of them mentions the theologically established term “viri probati” for those older married men who can be ordained as a priest but talk about it. The term “deaconess” does not even fall. True to the motto: go on, nothing happened here! Instead, Francis confirms that there are community groups in the Amazon that – thanks to committed women – have “sometimes existed for decades” without a priest coming by. Decades.
Why doesn’t the church move?
Francis, he is quite impressive as this other pope. Considered from the start with expectations that he, like the nice pastor from the village, likes to look after – binding and non-binding. Jesuit wise. And generally speaking, the term “Jesuit” does not sound like praise in German. But the pope who came from afar remains alien to the decision-making responsibility or responsibility even after almost seven years. the soft man – many roles are closer to him than that of the person responsible for the development of teaching.
“The church has stood still for 200 years. Why doesn’t it move? Are we afraid?” Complained Francis before Christmas. Soon there will be 201 years.