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One of the more bizarre (and potentially very destructive) events of the Francis pontificate will take place October 6-27 in Rome. It is a Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon Region, entitled Amazonia: New Paths for the Church and for an Integral Ecology. The lead-up to this synod consisted of talk about the lack of priests in the Pan-Amazon region and that, without priests, the Sacraments were not available on a regular basis. This is a serious concern for a Church given the mission by Jesus Christ to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Mt 28:19).
A story like this, wherein the Institute of the Consolata for Foreign Missions – a Catholic mission, mind you – has had priests and laypeople working among the Yanomamis in Brazil but have failed to baptize one single soul, gives a face to this serious concern.
One might think that a Jesuit pope would look to the Society of Jesus to find a good missionary priest or two cut from the mold of St. Francis Xavier or Matteo Ricci or St. Isaac Jogues or St. Jean de Brebeuf to go to the Amazon region and preach the Gospel. Or one might think that this special gathering of bishops in Rome to (allegedly) deal with a priest shortage might be about evangelization and an increase in missionary activity.