.- On Friday, prelates in Rome for the Synod of Bishops continued to meet in working groups arranged by spoken language. Primary among their concerns was the shortage of priests in many regions, a problem which some said, is not the result of celibacy, but of a cultural failure to make lifelong commitments--both to the priesthood and to marriage.
Bishop Donald Wuerl of Pittsburgh, PA spoke on behalf of one of the English language groups, saying that, "among the issues at hand in celebrating the Eucharist today, “first and most significant is the fact that the Eucharist is essential to the Church.”
He added however, that “we must also take into account the seriousness of the shortage of priests in so many parts of the world”, and “also recognize the place of married clergy in the Eastern Churches.”
“Our discussion”, he said, “highlighted that celibacy is not the principal and certainly not the sole reason for this shortage. In fact the culture of today is in crisis in a number of other areas including the nature, duration and vitality of marriage.”
He pointed specifically to “the lack of lifelong commitment”, which “seems to be a fundamental ‘leitmotif'’ throughout our reflections on much of modem life.”
“In looking at the situation”, Bishop Wuerl said that his group came to some “observations on how to deal with it.”
“A number of reflections surfaced,” he said. “First was the obvious need to encourage vocations to priestly ministry. ... Local churches should be open to sharing priests.”
The group also concluded “that programs for priests, deacons and the laity on good liturgy are not only helpful but necessary. The involvement of well-prepared laity and parish liturgical formation programs was encouraged."
Archbishop Alberto Giraldo Jaramillo P.S.S., of Medellin, Colombia, speaking for one of the Spanish language groups said that, “all bishops should give great importance to the formation of seminarians, accompanying them and their teachers.”
He said that, “Special care and attention has to be given to the selection and formation of candidates to live the charism of celibacy.”
Likewise, Bishop Paul-Andre Durocher of Alexandria-Cornwall in Canada said that the French language group was “unanimous in stating the invaluable worth of priestly celibacy for the Latin Church and wishes to engage the Church in more energetic and positive vocational pastoral care, one open to the gifts of God.”