.- Speaking to reporters at a press conference today following the presentation of a new working document for the General Synod of Bishops, currently being held in the Vatican, bishop delegates said that priest shortages in many parts of the world are not the result of celibacy, as many suggest, but of a crisis of faith and a misunderstanding of the divine.
Present in the Holy See Press office were the Synod's three president delegates, Cardinals Francis Arinze, Juan Sandoval Iñiguez and Telesphore Placidus Toppo, as well as Archbishop John Patrick Foley, president of the Commission for Information of the Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, and Bishop Sofron Stefan Mudry O.S.B.M., vice-president of the same commission.
Asked why, given the lack of priests in some regions, the solution of priestly ordination of married men was still being put in doubt, Cardinal Toppo told reporters that "the real problem is a crisis of faith, the lack of priests is a symptom of that crisis."
Likewise, Cardinal Sandoval cited other reasons for the shortage of priests, namely, "a lack of faith, secularization, and the closing of the window onto infinity."
Ukrainian Bishop Mudry added that, despite the fact that Eastern Catholic Churches admit married priests, this does not solve the problem because "they also have to dedicate time to their families ... and its is difficult for them to move to another area to continue their mission, if their bishop so requests."
The question of celibacy and of a lack of priests has been steadily discussed throughout the course of the Synod, as have other controversial questions like reception of the Eucharist for some non, and estranged Catholics.
Speaking on divorced people being permitted to communion, Cardinal Arinze said that the Church "shows compassion to these people who are suffering, and although they cannot partake of communion - because their position does not reflect the image of unity between Christ and the Church (bridegroom and bride) - they continue to be members of the Church."
As to the question posed by some Synod Fathers of greater homogeneity of enculturation, Cardinal Toppo stressed that this "is essential, and is the expression of a people's faith." Cardinal Sandoval added: "what is important is that hymns, dance, color, etc., help to encourage interior life, to unite oneself with the Lord, and that the ceremony does not become merely a show for entertainment."
Cardinal Arinze said added that he was particularly struck by the desire of Synod participants to more fully transmit the faith to their flocks and "to 'ars celebrandi,' that the faith upon which the people of God have fed in the church may accompany them when they leave the building, and encourage them to share what they have received with others."