He added that “Despite the challenges we have here in Ireland with finding enough priests and religious to serve our parishes, we should not forget that Ireland has always been a country which has responded to the Church’s call to mission … It would be wonderful if some Irish priests, religious and lay missionaries today were to consider offering even a five year period of ministry to the Amazon.”
Pressed nevertheless on the topic of priestly ordination of married men by RTE, the archbishop said that “this question is still open, I'm open to this question, I'm open to this question in the universal Church. I think Pope Francis recognizes it's a question where there's a lot of divided thinking, and I think that we can recognize the joy and beauty of the gift of the priesthood where a man gives his life wholly and entirely dedicated to God, set apart for the service of Christ and his Church, a real gift to the Church. At the same time, we have to look at other roles, other ministries within the Church.”
He said that “I'm very much open to the idea” of the priestly ordination of married men, “and I think Pope Francis is too. He doesn't shut the idea down, he leaves it open for further dicussion within the Church.”
The final document of the synod had proposed “that criteria and dispositions be established by the competent authority, within the framework of Lumen Gentium 26, to ordain as priests suitable and respected men of the community … who have had a fruitful permanent diaconate and receive an adequate formation for the priesthood, in order 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.”
Andrea Tornielli, the Vatican's editorial director, wrote Feb. 12 that “after praying and reflecting,” Pope Francis “has decided to respond not by foreseeing changes or further possibilities of exceptions from those already provided for by current ecclesiastical discipline, but by asking that the essentials be the starting point,” for discussions regarding priestly ministry in the Amazon.
The pope's failure explicity to permit the priestly ordination of married men in the Amazon has not deterred some of those who are calling for the practice.
Bishop Augusto Martin Quijano Rodriguez, Vicar Apostolic of Pucallpa, told Reuters that “the door is still open,” and that “the pope is asking for reflection. This proposal is still ongoing.”
The Central Committee of German Catholics, an influential lay group which is jointly managing the so-called synodal process with the German bishops’ conference, accused Pope Francis of a “lack of courage for real reforms” in his Amazonian exhortation.
ZdK wrote that the pope “does not find the courage to implement real reforms on the issues of consecration of married men and the liturgical skills of women that have been discussed for 50 years.”