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“Celibacy isn’t the problem”

“There is a lack of holiness and scandals which prevent people from following the path” to religious vocations, a Brazilian bishop said a press conference after today’s synod proceedings.

Jesuit Father Alfredo Ferro celebrates Mass July 14, 2019, in the indigenous community of Nazaret, Colombia.(CNS photo/David Agren)

October 16—The general congregation of the Pan-Amazonian Synod was suspended for a day to permit participants to work in circoli minori, small groups divided by language. Following 10 days of statements, interventions, and presentations by invited experts, the Synod Fathers now assemble in groups of 7 to 12 people. It’s in this format that differences are aired and discussed.

The circoli minori grapple with varying positions, poking and prodding one another to find points of agreement and resistance. Their work is added to a draft document, which will be further refined in the third week when a final document is presented to Pope Francis. This process deflects any prediction of an exact outcome.

The daily press briefing by Synod Fathers and Vatican communication officers began with a declaration of fraternity. The panel of communications personnel and invited briefers assured the journalists that “people were very much engaged” and “willing to go beyond personal positions.” The description of compatibility within the synod included an easy familiarity with Pope Francis who “drinks coffee with us, who listens to us.”

Dr. Paolo Ruffini began the session with a listing of familiar major themes for discussion: “Our Common home” as a paradigm; the importance of the Amazon for all believers; the prophetic mission of the Church; the problem of access to sacraments and to education; social issues of migration and multinational engagements.

Ruffini said synod members have realized they must have a spiritual, apostolic approach, not one of canon law; a “new approach” that “looks at the tree, not the individual branches.” In this spirit, the “vision is not lost.”

Giacomo Costa, SJ, the Vatican’s communications secretary, was similarly poetic. Synod Fathers share a “qualitative leap…this isn’t a parliament and a vote; there are spiritual dynamics,” he said. To illustrate this dimension, Father Costa recalled the biblical blind man who threw off his cloak to follow Jesus. “Throw away your safety for trust and faith. Leave space for the Spirit.” He continued with a warning, “If we fall into in conflicts and details we are trapped, we lose sight of the deeper reality.”

Invited briefers made opening statements, and questions from the press were held until all had spoken.

Ms. Yesica Patiachi Tayori is a bilingual teacher and a member of the indigenous pastoral ministry of the Apostolic Vicariate of Puerto Maldonado (Peru).

“I want to share with you what I told the synod: Indigenous people are guardians of the forest,” Ms. Tayori said. “Taking care of our common home is everyone’s responsibility.” She detailed the particular distress of her people, including loss of language, discrimination, the feeling of becoming “objects in a showcase.” Migration and human trafficking also afflict their region and “no one, no journalists” want to tell their story. She traveled to the synod because “we want the Holy Father to help us…let us live in self-determination.”

Ms. Tayori related a poignant story from her grandmother’s era. Thousands of Harakbut Indians were killed and their corpses polluted the river; hundreds of people downstream died from the contaminated water. A Dominican missionary knew of their plight, “He had known about the situation and came to fight for and with us, without him I would not be here today,” she said. “We want this synod to have results on human consciences,” she said.

Bishop Wellington Tadeu de Queiroz Vieira of Brazil carefully stressed the fraternal nature of a synod. “As you know the synod is an arena for dealing with different opinions: From the outside it may look as though we are fighting, but it’s brotherly environment of brotherly affection.”  Bishop Vieira continued, “I’m not a spokesperson, but many share my position…on the topic of a reduction of [numbers] ordained ministers…so our reflection considers the Amazon but of course it pertains to the whole Church.”

The soft-spoken bishop told the press, “I don’t see celibacy as a main problem, the problem is we need more ordained. There is a lack of holiness and scandals which prevent people from following the path [to vocation].”

Bishop Vieira noted the necessity of living with people, to grow close to them, but that often “we don’t portray the beauty of Christ, we drive people away…we need new paths, but paths cannot go beyond the path of holiness and conversion…I am convinced that if I lead a holy life young people looking for real values will cling to us…I mean by holiness, not a wrong idea of only looking at heaven, rather, living a simple life, of holiness, announcing gospel, we cannot lose sight of the power of transcendence.” His comments introduced a heretofore unreported perspective.

Bishop Vieira also addressed the unequal distribution of priests in the region which could be mitigated by better allocation. The reality, he observed, is a loss of missionary spirit. Fewer men today are willing to into these remote areas.

Other statements from the panel were similar to those outlined yesterday, primarily the role of women, extractive developments, and the urgency of ecological conversion.

Questions from the press became lively when Diane Montagna of LifeSiteNews asked Dr. Ruffini for information about the controversial statue that was the center of the ceremony last week in the Vatican Gardens. Montagna referred to a press briefing in which the naked pregnant statue was identified as the Virgin Mary, but an indigenous representative identified it as a pagan statue. “Can we settle the matter?” Montagna asked.

Dr. Ruffini replied, “Yes, we can get more information…I can tell you that some things in history are interpreted in different ways, it’s a statue that represents life, looking for paganism is looking for evil where there is none…I can let you know, we can get more information from REPAM [Red Ecclesial Panamazonia], one of the organizers.”

A member of the Spanish press inquired of the bishops on the panel, “What is a ministry appropriate to women? Do you approve of women [in the] diaconate?”

Bishop Vieira took her question. “Our communities couldn’t exist without women…in some cultures their value isn’t recognized. The issue of diaconate has been studied…in my experience, women do their work purely for love of Jesus, most women I know aren’t interested in this type of recognition.”

Pressed further by another correspondent, Bishop Pedro Jose Conti of Brazil said, “Things happen little by little, we find new paths, increasingly more spaces will be opened for women.”

Several journalists pondered Bishop Conti’s reply.  Could his comment signal that a female diaconate should not be expected from this synod?


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About Mary Jo Anderson 31 Articles
Mary Jo Anderson is a Catholic journalist and speaker whose articles and commentaries on politics, religion, and culture appear in a variety of publications. She is a frequent guest on EWTN's "Abundant Life." She was appointed to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops National Advisory Council (NAC), 2010-2014 and served as member of the NAC Executive Committee in 2011. Follow her on Twitter @maryjoanderson3.

9 Comments

  1. Where in the Bible is there any text about “our common home”. Surely there is no such thing as a “common home”. Every family needs to have its own home and not live in a common one.
    As for the guardians of the forest. If there had been such guardians in Europe at the time of St. Benedict and the following centuries we would not have Western Civilization, but huge forests which were there in those days. The trees were cut and the land was tilled, and of course the monks not only evangelized the “barbarians”, but also cilivized them so that later we could contemplate the enormous achievement that the great Romanesque and Gothic cathedrals were. After all, isn’t God’s first command to Adam and Eve to go forth, till the earth and exercise dominion over it. Just as well the eco fanatics, worshippers of the ecoreligion which is being proposed in Rome itself by a pope, cardinals, bishops etc.

    • Trees were cleared & a great deal of land was tilled in the pre-Columbian Amazon, also. Much of the rainforest we see today is regrowth following the decimation of the original population by diseases imported through European contact.

  2. BABEL. Why does the incoherent ambiguity of Amazonia remind of the 1975 comedy-drama “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”?

    In that flick actor Jack Nicholson, the only one (a minority!) capable of elevating the inmate-patients in the asylum (a space) above scripted/managed somnambulism (under the tutelage of the time-keeper Nurse Ratchet), is finally silenced by the front office with a lobotomy.

    And, surely with a clean report patiently (a polyvalent term) forwarded to, say, the Ministry of Whatever. The curtain closes as the daily clockwork routine (time) then proceeds as if nothing had happened–and as if “time is more important than space”.

    Of the minority at Amazonia…Yes, the problem is NOT celibacy! Yes, the distinct/ordained priesthood and diaconate should NOT be conflated with any distinctly different “ministry” by anyone of either sex!!

    And, yes, the pregnant female statue “can be interpreted in different ways.” But, NO, this unresolved PANTHEON is the very essence of pagan polytheism!!! In 313 A.D. Constantine finally added a niche for Christianity, BUT the trajectory was toward Christ (381 A.D.), NOT the reverse direction (c. 2019 A.D.)

  3. Bishop Vieira, a true man of God and obviously not part of the very false, very sentimentalist, very blind, very obsessive Eco-Catholicism, is so right!! First, the problems in Amazonia, the world and the whole Catholic Church are not due to a pressing need for that pagan fraud of “eco-conversion”, but all human and environmental problems are (and have always been) due to the most toxic ecology of willful SIN, and the most real, pressing need, as it has always been, for repentance from sin and total conversion to Jesus in the One and True Catholic Faith.

    If our Faith has been found wanting it is because we have highly diluted our precious Catholic Faith into a dehumanizing, grotesque, New Age Eco-Charade and we don’t need more New Age gasoline into that very fire. Second, celibacy is not the problem, it is THE SOLUTION!! Celibacy is Enemy Number One of the Satanic lusts of the Sexual (Pseudo) Revolution, which is at the very core of Satan’s Impostor Gospel of False Compassion and its political, occultic, sexual seduction. That’s why celibacy is so rejected and so hated.

    The pedophile Priests totally rejected that Holy Celibacy, which led to their crimes, and now we are asked to do more of the SAME!! The deluded prelates that are part of the Amazon Synod are asking for MORE of the very evils that prevent the Holy Faith from bringing these suffering people into real spiritual freedom and material progress, what every true missionary always did! Women Deacons and Pastors have not done this for Protestant churches, just the total opposite, and they will not do it for the Catholic Church at large. None of the great and powerful female saints ever cared for rank, power and position, just like the Virgin Mary! True women of God are SO powerful they don’t need any of this!! Also, thanks God for Real Men of God bringing Truth like Bishop Vieira, Cardinal Sarah, etc. Let’s pray for millions more like them!!

      • Absolutely!!! SO very well said, Mj Anderson! Here’s a great book to read about the power, blessing and absolute need in society and the Church for celibacy to exist and be promoted and celebrated with an infinitely bigger zeal that others promote homosexuality, etc.

        If you’re able, buy some for other Catholics and one for sure to share with your Parish Priest. Our Priests need this book and our total support in their very courageous, holy choice that puts them directly at odds with so much and so very popular evil. The book is: “Friends Of The Bridegroom: For A Renewwed Vision Of Priestly Celibacy”, by Marc Cardinal Ouellet. Enjoy and share!!

      • “Bishop Vieira noted the necessity of living with people, to grow close to them, but that often ’we don’t portray the beauty of Christ, we drive people away…we need new paths, but paths cannot go beyond the path of holiness and conversion…I am convinced that if I lead a holy life young people looking for real values will cling to us…I mean by holiness, not a wrong idea of only looking at heaven, rather, living a simple life, of holiness, announcing gospel, we cannot lose sight of the power of transcendence.’ His comments introduced a heretofore unreported perspective.”

        Of all that caught my eye, this caught my attention and held it: the fact that Bishop Vieira’s comments ”introduced a heretofore unreported perspective” and I can’t stop thinking about it. His words should’ve been a wake-up call to the bishops, though I can well imagine that they will ignore them instead. But we can, and must, hope and pray that they will heed his warning, repent and believe in the Gospel. For the Kingdom is at hand and the day is far spent.

  4. Bishop Vieira, a true man of God and obviously not part of the very false, very sentimentalist, very blind, very obsessive Eco-Catholicism, is so right!! First, the problems in Amazonia, the world and the whole Catholic Church are not due to a pressing need for that pagan fraud of “eco-conversion”, but all human and environmental problems are (and have always been) due to the most toxic ecology of willful SIN, and the most real, pressing need, as it has always been, for repentance from sin and total conversion to Jesus in the One and True Catholic Faith.

    If our Faith has been found wanting it is because we have highly diluted our precious Catholic Faith into a dehumanizing, grotesque, New Age Eco-Charade and we don’t need more New Age gasoline into that very fire. Second, celibacy is not the problem, it is THE SOLUTION!! Celibacy is Enemy Number One of the Satanic lusts of the Sexual (Pseudo) Revolution, which is at the very core of Satan’s Impostor Gospel of False Compassion and its political, occultic, sexual seduction. That’s why celibacy is so rejected and so hated.

    The sinful Priests totally rejected that Holy Celibacy, which led to their crimes, and now we are asked to do more of the SAME!! The deluded prelates that are part of the Amazon Synod are asking for MORE of the very evils that prevent the Holy Faith from bringing these suffering people into real spiritual freedom and material progress, what every true missionary always did! Women Deacons and Pastors have not done this for Protestant churches, just the total opposite, and they will not do it for the Catholic Church at large. None of the great and powerful female saints ever cared for rank, power and position, just like the Virgin Mary! True women of God are SO powerful they don’t need any of this!! Also, thanks God for Real Men of God bringing Truth like Bishop Vieira, Cardinal Sarah, etc. Let’s pray for millions more like them!!

  5. As a 71 yo Catholic I have experienced the old church and the new Church. The new Church has little semblance to the old…in its focus, beliefs, teachings,the Mass and spiritual practices. It’s a deadened church spiritually with little that elevates the spirit, little that inspires, little that nourishes the soul, little that sharpens the conscience, little that evokes a sense of the sacred. Holiness of priests is a tremendous gift of grace to the people of God. We desperately need holiness in the church and especially in the sacrifice of the Mass.

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