Pope Francis closed the door on the Catholic Church ordaining elderly married men who serve as deacons in the world’s far-flung regions. That’s according to his Apostolic Exhortation, called Querida Amazonia or “Beloved Amazon,” which was released Wednesday in Rome by the Holy See Press Office. During a synod in Rome last October, the pontiff had promised to consider whether the answer to a dire priest shortage in the Amazon region would make it possible for married deacons currently serving the church to be ordained to deliver sacraments. Deacons carry out many of the same roles as priests, but cannot perform the sacraments. In some areas of the Amazon, Catholics see a priest once a year due to a lack of men joining the priesthood. But the pope ruled that this was not the moment to open that door, asking instead that local bishops pray for more vocations and work to send newly ordained priests to areas that are under served. Francis also said no to giving women in those regions an opportunity to become deacons to combat the shortage.
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