Issue of celibacy in Amazon rooted in authentic inculturation of Gospel


One of the questions being considered during the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon region is whether or not the Church should ordain married men for priestly service in that region. According to a recent Catholic News Agency article, supporters of the change maintain that the indigenous people of the Amazon “do not understand celibacy.”

The retired bishop of Marajo, Brazil, however, Jose Luis Azcona, disagrees. In his view, “It’s not the indigenous culture that finds insurmountable difficulties in understanding celibacy. It’s that there was not a real inculturation of the Gospel among them. For many reasons, there has been a transmission of the faith that was not transformed into culture, a faith that was not completely received, not thought out completely, not lived faithfully.”

A faith “not completely received” indicates a failure in catechesis; a faith “not lived faithfully” is symptomatic of a lack of sanctity.

Consequently, Bishop Azcona says, “the first step in solving the problem of celibacy is not the abolition of it,” but rather, working to achieve a more authentic inculturation of the Gospel.

In effect, he’s saying that the people of the Amazon region need to be taught the truth by people who are deeply committed to living the truth. They need teachers, in other words, who also want to be saints. Which is what the Church needs everywhere.