Maike Hickson

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Bishop Erwin Kräutler of Xingu, Brazil. GLOBART / YouTube

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John Paul II’s ban on female priests ‘not a dogma’: key Amazon Synod organizer

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September 30, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – The bishop credited with writing the Amazon Synod’s controversial working document has stated that Pope John Paul II's teaching about the impossibility of female priests is “not a dogma.” 

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Bishop Erwin Kräutler, the retired bishop of Xingu, Brazil, made this claim in an interview with Blickpunkt Lateinamerika, the journal of the German relief agency Adveniat – a group which heavily funded the preparations for the upcoming Synod happening in Rome October 6-27. 

Making it once more clear that he is in favor of female priests, the Bishop explained that the reason why he never speaks of “viri probati” (morally proven married men who could possibly be ordained), but, rather, of “personae probatae” (proven persons) is because the former is “too much bound to one sex.”

“I know it is not easy to oppose exclusion of women from the ordained priesthood, as it has been cemented [sic] by Pope John Paul II in his 1994 apostolic document Ordinatio Sacerdotalis,” he said, adding: “But, even if the Pope explained at the time that 'all the faithful of the Church are definitely to hold this decision,' it is nevertheless not a dogma.”

In 1994, St. John Paul II declared in an apostolic letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis that the Church has “no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church's faithful.”

In May of last year, Archbishop Luis Ladaria, the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, reaffirmed Pope John Paul II’s teaching, stating that the male-only priesthood is “infallible” teaching. “The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in response to a doubt about the teaching of Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, reiterated that it is a truth belonging to the deposit of faith,” he stated at that time. 

Also in 2018, German Cardinal Walter Brandmüller – one of the two remaining dubia cardinals – declared that anyone who calls for female priests in the Catholic Church “fulfills the elements of heresy which has, as its consequence, the exclusion from the Church – excommunication.” He made the case that John Paul II's 1994 declaration “fulfills all the preconditions which are necessary for an infallible – that is to say, an irrevocable – dogmatic decision.”

Cardinal Gerhard Müller, the former Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, stated in July that not even a pope or a council could change this dogma that excludes women from Holy Orders. He said that “no synod – with or without the Pope – and also no ecumenical council, or the Pope alone, if he spoke ex cathedra, could make possible the ordination of women as bishop, priest, or deacon. They would stand in contradiction to the defined doctrine of the Church.”

The fact that Bishop Kräutler, a key organizer of the upcoming Amazon Synod, can so lightly question settled teaching of the Catholic Church does not bode well for this synod and its outcome. Kräutler also stated in the interview that the Amazon Synod “must admit women to the ordination to the diaconate.”

The Austrian bishop has been involved in preparations for the Amazon Synod since 2014 after he met Pope Francis in a private audience, at which he discussed with the Pope the ideas of Bishop Fritz Lobinger to ordain married priests. Lobinger also proposes to ordain women.

At that audience, Pope Francis told Kräutler to make “bold proposals” for the Amazon region.

In March of 2018, the Pope called the bishop into the pre-synodal council for the Amazon Synod. Different progressivist sources, such as The Tablet and Professor Paul Zulehner, claim that the Austrian bishop is the main author of the synod's working document.

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Maike Hickson

Dr. Maike Hickson was born and raised in Germany. She holds a PhD from the University of Hannover, Germany, after having written in Switzerland her doctoral dissertation on the history of Swiss intellectuals before and during World War II. She now lives in the U.S. and is married to Dr. Robert Hickson, and they have been blessed with two beautiful children. She is a happy housewife who likes to write articles when time permits.

Dr. Hickson published in 2014 a Festschrift, a collection of some thirty essays written by thoughtful authors in honor of her husband upon his 70th birthday, which is entitled A Catholic Witness in Our Time.

Hickson has closely followed the papacy of Pope Francis and the developments in the Catholic Church in Germany, and she has been writing articles on religion and politics for U.S. and European publications and websites such as LifeSiteNews, OnePeterFive, The Wanderer, Rorate Caeli, Catholicism.org, Catholic Family News, Christian Order, Notizie Pro-Vita, Corrispondenza Romana, Katholisches.info, Der Dreizehnte,  Zeit-Fragen, and Westfalen-Blatt.