A GROUP or missionary bishops from Indonesia have asked the Vatican to consider their ordaining married men because the people are suffering from a lack of pastoral care.
Reports of the request claim to be based on a leaked copy of the confidential document presented to the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples.
The document came from one of three groups of Indonesian bishops in Rome for an ad limino visit that diocesan bishops have to make every five years,
They base their request on a serious lack of priests. "In all places," they say, "Except Jakarta and Semarang, 60 to 80 per cent of the faithful do not have ready access to the sacraments and the Eucharist."
Their report continues: "The recent attitude of the minister of the Department for Religious
Affairs and a considerable number of Indonesian Government officials places the Church of Indonesia in an unsettling quandary. At this moment it is not known how long foreign missionaries will be allowed to remain.— Most priests in Indonesia are foreign missionaries.
There are more than three million Catholics in Indonesia, with 1.500 priests and 356 seminarians. The bishops say that they are encouraging native vocations as much as they can and have developed the use of lay ministers, They still find the manpower insufficient and see a broadening of lay ministry, for example the witnessing of marriages, as essential. They add that it is the importance of the Eucharist that motivated them to ask for married priests,