“In my diocese, I have married deacons who carry out their diaconate role in a marvelous way, who give homilies through which they touch people much more powerfully than we who are celibate.”
A leading European cardinal, Jean-Claude Hollerich, spoke with La Croix about some of the challenges facing the Church today. He is the archbishop of Luxembourg and president of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conference of the European Union.
Among other things, he had this to say about the sex abuse crisis:
If there is a systemic fault, do you think systemic changes are needed?
Yes. Obviously, in my diocese, like many others, we have a charter of good conduct that everyone has to sign, priests as well as lay people who work for the Church.Before ordination, we also subject seminarians to eight psychological sessions designed to detect pedophilia.We are doing all we can, but it is not enough. We need a Church that is structured in such a way that these things are no longer possible.
What does that mean?
If women and young people had been given more of a voice, these things would have been discovered much sooner.
We must stop acting as if women were a marginal group in the Church. They are not on the periphery of the Church, they are in the center. And if we do not give a voice to those who are at the center of the Church, we will have a big problem.I don’t want to be more specific: this question will inevitably be asked at the Synod, in various cultures, in diverse contexts.
But women have been ignored too much. We must listen to them, as we do to the rest of the people of God.
Bishops must be like shepherds who listen to their people. It’s not just for them to say, “Yes, I hear, but that doesn’t interest me”. They need to be in the midst of their flock.
What other changes need to be made?
The formation of clergy must change.It must not be centered only on the liturgy, even if I understand that seminarians attach great importance to it.
Lay people and women must have a say in the formation of priests. Forming priests is a duty for the whole Church, so the whole Church must accompany this step, with married and single men and women.
Secondly, we need to change our way of looking at sexuality. Until now, we have had a rather repressed vision of sexuality.
Obviously, it’s not about telling people they can do just anything or abolishing morality, but I think we need to say that sexuality is a gift from God.We know that, but do we say it? I’m not sure.
… As for celibacy and the priestly life, let us ask frankly if a priest must necessarily be celibate. I have a very high opinion of celibacy, but is it indispensable? In my diocese, I have married deacons who carry out their diaconate role in a marvelous way, who give homilies through which they touch people much more powerfully than we who are celibate. Why not have married priests too?