Published February 13, 2020
Catholics, take heart. Pope Francis ’ apostolic exhortation on the Amazon Synod, released Wednesday, is no truth-and-tradition-shredding document. On point after point, the Holy Father reiterates the longstanding teaching of the Catholic Church—whether on the role of the priest, the centrality of women to the church’s mission, or the continued importance of priestly celibacy.
Over the past few months the pope’s critics within the church have worried that the Vatican would chip away or discard Catholicism’s moral theology. The rhetoric sometimes made it sound as if the sky were falling, taking the Barque of St. Peter with it. Such fear is unbecoming of all who place their trust in God and believe his promise that the “gates of hell shall not prevail” against the church.
These concerns came from genuine care. At the conclusion of the Amazon Synod in October, the bishops voted to recommend the ordination of married men as priests in certain South American regions, despite millennia-old Catholic teaching and discipline to the contrary. They also recommended further discussion on allowing local women to be deacons. Under Catholic doctrine, deacons receive Holy Orders, as do bishops and priests. This sacrament always has been reserved to men. The fear was that abandoning such teachings in the Amazon was the first step toward change across the entire church.
Mr. Busch is founder of the Napa Institute, a Catholic lay organization. Ms. Hasson, a board member of the Institute, is a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.