Bishop ‘breaks ranks’ over celibacy at Synod

Celibacy is not an obstacle to increasing priestly vocations.

According to Bishop Wellington de Queiroz Vieira of Cristalandia and a member of the current Amazon synod the real issue is a lack of holiness.

de Queiroz says combating priest shortages in the Amazon region by ordaining mature married men does not address a greater problem.

He says he thinks the real obstacles to increasing local priestly vocations are scandals and a lack of holiness in bishops, priests, and deacons.

de Queiroz, 51, says clergy need to be close to their people. However, quoting Pope Francis he adds:

“But very often we do that, but do not convey the perfume of Christ. And we are not able to convey the real message.”

The reality instead, is that clerics often either drive people away from Christ, or become proclaimers of themselves.

“We are not always holy priests and holy bishops in our own churches,” he says.

People need to think about changing themselves before changing as a Church.

He says in his opinion, the instrument to reawaken vocations lies in the holiness of the evangelizers.

“I am convinced that if I live a holy life, I will not lack ordained ministers,” he says.

This is because young people are looking for models of holiness and will be drawn to it when they see it.

“We have an obligation to provide examples of holiness.”

De Queiroz describes holiness as including simplicity of life, openness to dialogue, respecting differences, unwavering proclamation of the Christian life, compassion for those who suffer, charity and accepting challenges.

He thinks there should be another solution to priest shortages in the Amazon that needs to be considered.

At present, he notes there is an unequal distribution of priests in the region.

In some areas there is a higher concentration of priests than in others, but they lack a “missionary spirit” to leave and travel to the more remote and challenging areas of the Amazon.

“We need to change this mentality,” he says.


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