by Dennis Coday
You’ve probably seen news about the synod of bishops meeting at the Vatican this month to discuss issues that impact the church in the Amazon region of South America. (See for example, Pope Francis opens Amazon synod, says to ‘light the fire of the Gospel’ in the region.)
But did you know there is a strong Precious Blood connection to that meeting?
That connection is Bishop Erwin Kräutler.
The 80-year-old Austrian was ordained a priest for the Society of the Precious Blood in 1965 and began missionary work in Brazil. In 1980, he was appointed Coadjutor Bishop of Xingu in central Brazil. Today that territorial prelature has some 382,650 Catholics in 15 parishes served by 33 priests and 41 women religious. That is an average of 11,954 Catholics per priest.
Xingu, named for the Xingu River which winds through it, is in the very heart of the Amazon.
Kräutler retired in 2015, but remains active, most recently as part of the preparatory council appointed by Pope Francis ahead of the synod on the Amazon.
It was Kräutler who in April 2014 broached the idea with Pope Francis of ordaining “mature married men from indigenous communities” to the priesthood to ensure Catholic communities in remote areas have regular access to the sacraments. …
“The question, then, is how can we provide [Sunday] Eucharist to all communities, or at least during the important Catholic festivities, such as Easter and Christmas,” Kräutler said in a radio interview last month.
“Priests appear in some of these communities two, three times per year. It is unbearable,” he said.
But Kräutler adds that the discussion of ordained married men is just one small part of the synod’s agenda. The synod will also address “integral ecology.” He said Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home, was like a working manual for those preparing the synod. …
This article is excerpted from an article in the Weekly Wine Press. Read the full article here.