Monday, November 11, 2002

Chiapas told: Still no more new deacons.

A top Vatican envoy told disappointed Indian Catholics on Sunday that the pope would not reverse a decision to suspend the training of lay Indian deacons in southern Chiapas for five years. Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, head of the Vatican's Congregation for Bishops, told the faithful that there are too many of the lay workers and not enough priests in the region.

"In all of the other 85 dioceses in Mexico combined there are less deacons than in Chiapas,' he said, alluding to the 344 deacons who work in this predominantly Indian region. What is missing, Battista Re said, is an effort to encourage the sons of deacons to study for the priesthood to lessen a shortage of Catholic clergy here.

Battista Re reiterated the church's position after a private meeting with about 40 local deacons, who gave him a letter asking Pope John Paul II to lift the suspension.

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