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ROME, February 5, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – New details have emerged regarding a draft text of Pope Francis’s widely anticipated summary document on the Amazon Synod that is said to “open the door” to abolishing priestly celibacy in the Latin Church.  

According to Italian historian Roberto de Mattei, multiple sources have confirmed that neither the Vatican Secretary of State nor the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith were given the partial draft of the apostolic exhortation that Brazilian Cardinal Cláudio Hummes sent to at least several bishops conferences in mid-January.

On Friday, January 31, Roberto de Mattei, president of the Lepanto Foundation and director of Corrispondenza Romana, reported based on documents received from several bishops, that a partial draft text had been sent to members of the episcopacy by Cardinal Hummes that would lead to a widespread weakening of priestly celibacy in the Latin Church.   

Cardinal Hummes, who served as General Relator at the October 2019 Amazon Synod, has long advocated a change in the discipline of priestly celibacy. The Brazilian cardinal made headlines in 2006 when he argued that “even though celibacy is part of Catholic history and culture, the Church could review this question, because celibacy is not a dogma but a disciplinary question.”

According to documents received by Corrispondenza Romana, the partial draft text that bishops received from Cardinal Hummes reproduced verbatim paragraph 111 of the Amazon Synod’s final document. In paragraph 111, the synod fathers proposed ordaining married men in “the most remote areas of the Amazon region.” 

De Mattei argued that the positive inclusion of this passage in the apostolic exhortation (whether in the main body or a footnote) would effectively “open the door” for the German Bishops, and others, to create a married clergy. “There is no reason to prohibit in other regions of the world what will be permitted in some parts of the Amazon,” he wrote.

In comments to LifeSite on February 5, de Mattei expanded on his initial report, saying: “It is known that, on January 13, Cardinal Hummes sent a letter to all the bishops to make them aware of the imminent release of Pope Francis’s Post-Synodal Exhortation.” 

De Mattei continued: “Based on absolutely sure sources, Corrispondenza Romana revealed the existence of a subsequent letter, sent sub secreto by Cardinal Hummes himself, in which paragraph 111 of the Amazon Synod’s final document is presented as part of Pope Francis’s Post-Synodal Exhortation. But it seems that the document approved by the Congregation for the Faith does not contain this passage.” 

He added: “It seems impossible to imagine that Pope Francis was unaware of the initiative of Cardinal Hummes. But then what is Pope Francis’ strategy? What twist will he keep for us at the last moment?”

Were two parallel initiatives set in motion? And if so, why?

It is still premature to say what the final outcome will be. The apostolic exhortation is currently in translation and is expected to be released on February 12, 2020.  


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