A contributor to the working document for the Vatican’s Synod of Bishops on the Amazon region made his case Wednesday for the priestly ordination of married men in the region.
“I’m saying this with great sincerity – there is no other option,” Bishop Erwin Kräutler, the retired head of the Xingu prelature in Amazonian Brazil, said at a Vatican press briefing Oct. 9.
“The indigenous people do not understand celibacy,” Kräutler added. “For them, at least those I have met… they can not understand this thing that a man is not married, that he does not have a woman taking care of the house, of the home.”
The bishop added that he was often the object of suspicion or pity when he explained to indigenous communities that he did not have a wife, and he joked that he sometimes found it easier to say that his wife was “far away from here.”
Kräutler, 80 and a native of Austria, was part of the committee that developed the instrumentum laboris, or working document, for the October meeting of bishops. That document has been the subject of criticism by some bishops, who say it is not reflective of Catholic teaching on several key points.
The bishop said that he had raised the issue of priestly celibacy to Pope Francis in 2015, during preliminary discussions regarding a meeting of bishops to discuss the Amazon.
“There are thousands of communities in the Amazon that don’t have the Eucharist except for one, two, three times a year. These people are practically excluded from the Church,” he said.
“What we want is that our brothers and sisters don’t have just the table for the Word, but also for the Eucharist.”
“In our opinion, celibacy is about the Eucharist,” Kräutler added.
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