A Spanish bishop has said that women priests “could be” a solution to the vocations crisis.
– “We must look for solutions” to the lack of priests “with the means we have”
The ordination of women “could be” a solution to the lack of priests in small towns and villages, “but it is something that depends on the universal Church and we must look for solutions with the means we have”, Carlos Escribano, the bishop of Calahorra-La Calzada-Logroño in Spain’s La Rioja region, told a local newspaper in an interview October 8.
That openness to women priests on the part of the bishop came despite the repeated ‘nos’ to the ordination of women from other members of the Catholic hierarchy, including Pope Francis, based on the supposedly infallible teaching of Pope John Paul II in his 1994 apostolic letter Ordinatio sacerdotalis.
Escribano – who this past Tuesday was named by Pope Francis to the major Spanish see of Zaragoza – insisted that in the Church “we have to work on vocations”.
“We need living communities so that there are answers to these problems [of the lack of priests]. But it is a long-distance race and the social reality is very different [to what it was]”, the bishop explained.
“At the moment, in La Rioja, priestly care is spread around reasonably well. There are dioceses that are worse off in this regard. But perhaps in the immediate future we should think that the celebrations will not only be on Sunday, but also on Saturday afternoon”, to ensure fewer priests can visit the greatest number of churches, Escribano added.
– “We cannot talk the same way to the people who are in the parishes and to the people who don’t give a damn about what the Church says”
Escribano also said in the interview that he wasn’t taking his transfer to the archdiocese of Zaragoza “as a promotion”, since he said “I became a priest to become a parish priest”.
Furthermore, the bishop called on the Church to find a new way of doing pastoral work “thinking also of the people who are outside the parishes and who are even hostile” to Catholicism.
“We cannot talk the same way to the people who are in the parishes and to the people who don’t give a damn about what the Church says”, the bishop warned.
He stressed that before, when religious affiliation could be taken for granted, “the Church called and people responded. All of that has fallen apart, but that does not mean that we cannot continue to make our proposal and our contribution for a better society”.
“Anyone who does not see this secularisation deceives themselves. There has been a shift in society and the Church must find her space”, the bishop pointed out.
“I believe that the Church can continue to propose interesting things even in this social context. Many times it is our own clumsiness that prevents us from doing so. That is our great challenge”, he admitted.
That being said, the bishop acknowledged that the Church “is a like a Titanic… but let’s hope it doesn’t sink”.
“Maneuvering costs a lot and the Church needs some time to make the reforms she has to make”, Escribano explained, adding that what Pope Francis has done in the seven-and-a-half years of his pontificate to date has been “to reorient the bow of the ship a little and over time we will see that we will reach different conclusions”.
– “If the pandemic does not make us reflect, it will be a lost opportunity”
Lastly, on the topic of COVID-19, Escribano observed that “the pandemic has been terrible because of the suffering it is generating and the consequences it is having”.
The spread of the coronavirus “created a sensation of feeling vulnerable when we thought we were capable of everything and had answers for everything”, he observed.
“If [the pandemic] does not make us reflect, it will be a lost opportunity”, the bishop warned. calling on Catholics and non-Catholics alike to intensify their “solidarity”.
“We are going to have to share a lot so that many people do not remain in a state of precariousness that destroys their lives. We must continue to be close to those who suffer, extending our unconditional help to all who need it, especially the poorest and weakest”.