(Lisbon) On 15 March Pope Francis appointed a new Bishop of Porto. For the first time in recent days, the diocesan bishop has spoken in the media for the first time. Topics included the celibacy of the priests and the traditional rite.
On September 11, 2017, Bishop Antonio Francisco dos Santos of Porto was stricken unexpectedly at the age of 69 by a heart attack. His death triggered unease in part of the clergy. It was urged to change the Apostolic Nuncio, because he was "not enough of a Bergoglian". Only then should the follow-up question be tackled. This did not happen, but the new bishop sent out signals that could satisfy this part of the clergy.
The new Bishop of Porto is Manuel da Silva Rodrigues Linda. In the Autumn of 2013, Pope Francis appointed him military bishop of the country. Francis has now made him the diocesan bishop of Porto.
The exact date of origin of this diocese is unknown. It is certain that in the 6th century it was consolidated under the rule of the Suevs as a stable institution. During the subsequent Islamic rule, information about the bishops of Porto is missing for approximately 150 years. The diocese is a suffragan of the Archdiocese of Braga.
"That would not shock me"
The Jornal de Noticias has published the first big interview of the new bishop on March 25th. It is from a video interview taken by editors of the same newspaper and also published.
To abolish the celibacy of priests, the bishop said:
"That would not shock me. In the same way as the norm of celibacy has come, it can disappear again. At the beginning of the church the priests were married men."
Bishop Manuel da Silva Rodrigues Linda was also interviewed on the admission of remarried divorced people to the Sacraments. Various Portuguese diocese have already published guidelines on this.
Jornal de Noticias: Will you also prepare a message about the remarried divorced? How will it comply with the Pope's instructions to integrate these situations in your diocese? Will you follow the Bishop of Braga or more to the Cardinal Patriarch of Lisbon?
Bishop Linda: Pope Francis does not provide any solutions, he initiates challenges. And the process is to scan the terrain, as we experienced in the Synod. It should be a way of study. The road from Braga seems very balanced. It is that couples who find themselves in this situation and want to re-enter the fullness of the Church's life should spend at least half a year examining the reasons why they want to do it, supported by technicians [SIC], psychologists, priests, and other married people [scary].
Jornal de Noticias: If a remarried person feels ready to receive the Eucharist, is such a great therapeutic effort necessary?
Bishop Linda: That is it! We are not just talking about a legal level, but also about the depth of conscience.
Jornal de Noticias: But is that not going to be an even bigger stigma for many remarried people, who already feel effectively stigmatized?
Bishop Linda: There are many typologies among the remarried divorced so that we have to clarify each case and analyze how far it is in accordance with the Church.
Repent because "strict groups were given space"
The new bishop was also asked by the newspaper about the "return" of Holy Mass in the traditional rite.
Bishop Linda: I am very worried because in certain cases it ties up the boys and especially the intellectuals. We do not know why these individuals find satisfaction in these rites.
At the same time, Bishop Linda criticized Pope Benedict XVI because in 2007 he opened the traditional form of the Roman Rite home again in the Church.
The bishop said that the video interview did not make it clear whether he meant it ironically, but what to assume:
"Maybe we bishops and priests should repent because we gave room to these strict groups."
Text: Giuseppe Nardi Image: Jornal de Noticias (screenshot)