Bishop Lionel Gendron of Saint-Jean-Longueuil.

Married priests not a priority item

  • October 4, 2019

OTTAWA -- Although the question of married priests to serve remote regions of the Amazon has monopolized headlines prior to the upcoming Synod of Bishops, it is not a priority issue, said a Canadian bishop who will participate in the synod.

Likewise, ordination of married priests is not being pursued for Canada’s far north, which faces many similar issues to the Amazon region, said Bishop Lionel Gendron of Saint-Jean-Longueuil. Canada faces other challenges, he said.

“It’s not a question of priests being married or women becoming priests,” said Gendron, who is one of three Canadian prelates who will attend the Oct. 6-27 synod in Rome. “It is laicity, secularization. Most people think not only the Catholic faith is not relevant but also religion is not relevant.”

Gendron, who just finished a two-year term as president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, will join about 145 bishops in Rome at the invitation of Pope Francis. Other Canadians present will be Cardinal Marc Ouellet, Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, and Cardinal-designate Fr. Michael Czerny, an undersecretary for migrants and refugees in the Vatican’s department of Integral Human Development. 

Czerny will be made a cardinal on Oct. 5.

The question of ordaining married elders as priests is just one of 146 topics on the Amazon synod’s agenda, said Gendron, and is not the focus of the synod.

“What is at the centre is what Pope Francis calls the integral ecology,” Gendron said. 

Integral ecology respects the environment and the Indigenous people, and integrates both  with “necessary economic development.”

Canada and the Amazon have many features in common, Gendron acknowledged. Both cover a huge land mass with vast forests and great diversity among Indigenous peoples. 

“I think we will have to listen well to what is applicable in our situation,” he said.

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