Cardinal Camillo Ruini:
“In the Amazon, and also in other parts of the world, there is a serious shortage of priests, and Christian communities often remain deprived of the Mass,” Ruini, who was Vicar General of Rome from 1991 to 2008, said in a Nov. 3 interview with Italian daily Corriere della Sera.
“It is understandable that there is a push to ordain married deacons as priests,” he continued. “It is in this sense most of the synod was in favor of ordaining married deacons to the priesthood.”
“In my opinion, however, this is a wrong choice. And I hope and pray that the pope, in the upcoming post-synodal apostolic exhortation, will not confirm it.”
The 88-year-old cardinal, who was also head of the Italian bishops’ conference for 16 years in the 1990s and 2000s, said there are two principle reasons why he thinks it is not the right decision to make an exception to priestly celibacy in the Amazon.
The first is that in the “eroticized” society of today, “priestly celibacy is a great sign of total dedication to God and to the service of our brothers.”
To give up celibacy, even as an exception in one particular place, he said, “would be a yielding to the spirit of the world, which always tries to penetrate the Church, and which would hardly stop with exceptional cases like the Amazon.”
Ruini also pointed to the crisis hitting the institution of marriage today, stating that married priests and their wives would not be immune to its effects. “Their human and spiritual condition could not fail to be affected,” he argued.
To the problem of a lack of priestly vocations there is “only one decisive answer,” the cardinal said: “We Christians, and in particular we priests and religious, must be closer to God in our lives, lead a more holy life, and beg God for all this in prayer. Without getting tired.”
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