The Amazon along the Xingu River has over 800 Catholic congregations, who knew, and only has 27 acting priests to assist these congregations. This article speaks to the lack of Priests available for the Amazonian Catholic community. Bishop Erwin Krautler made a proposal to Pope Francis to ordain married community elders to alleviate the shortage. This will allow for communities who can currently not receive certain sacraments to do so.
African has the same problem, and Bishop Krautler was not the first one to propose the ordination of married men in fact Frist Lobinger from Aliwal South Africa, a retired bishop put forward he same case for ordaining married men in underserved areas.
Since Krautler’s visit and proposition to the Vatican, Pope Francis has encouraged an open discussion on the issue and has urged bishops to come up with a solution to the priest shortage. Some priests have presented their worry in that priest are traditionally trained and receive formal academic training, of course another worry is the celibacy that men in the priesthood are to keep.
While Pope Francis was brought forth much change to the Catholic Religion ideology by accepting members of the LGTB this is changing something written in their law. This proposition by the Brazilian Bishop is absurd; it is contradicting a long-standing tradition of celibacy of those who are the in priesthood. I cannot help but agree with it being a solution to the problem; communities will be able to receive sacraments. However I believe it to go beyond that, it will allow those who left the priesthood and married to return to the priestly service. These individuals already had formal academic training to be priests and it will allow them to be married and act as a priest. There are thousands of inactive married priest who would do much to relieve the shortage.
I would like to turn to the attention to deacons; deacons are allowed to be married men. Deacons in the Roman Catholic Church can baptize, witness marriage and perform funeral and burial services, they can distribute communion and preach the homily. So, why not start the solution to the problem to a smaller scale, find deacons, or those elders that the Bishop is proposing to become deacons? They can celebrate mass, the only thing that are cannot perform is the consecration of the Mass. The communities will be receiving the service, they will allow receiving communion, as long as there are already consecrated hosts; which is something that a priest can consecrate in another celebration and the deacons can take to the rural communities. This is something that will alleviate the problem without abolishing a long-standing tradition.