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‘Pagan idols,’ married priests and more mark Amazon synod

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis’ meeting on the Amazon is wrapping up after three weeks of debate over married priests and the environment. But the week’s most important debate just might be over the destruction of Amazonian indigenous statues by Catholic conservatives.

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More than 180 bishops and cardinals from nine Amazonian countries vote Saturday on a final document synthesizing proposals to better protect the rainforest and minister to its indigenous peoples.

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The most controversial proposals include whether married men can be ordained priests, and women as deacons, to address the shortage of clergy in the region.

While those theological debates raged in the synod hall, the action outside focused on the theft of carved Amazonian statues of naked pregnant women from a Vatican-area church — and the implications for Francis’ papacy.

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