D. António Augusto Azevedo, on a pastoral visit to the diocese of Trás-os-Montes, has found “an extremely welcoming people who like to receive a bishop, and do so with great joy and with very beautiful signs” and “a people with a great culture and a great faith".
The prelate notes that "there are some difficulties in some areas, some aging", but stresses that the most important thing is "this strong image of a welcoming people, of a people with faith, of a people who know how to receive".
The aging of the population, which is felt in many villages now almost without people, worries the Bishop of Vila Real. D. António Augusto considers that “it is a complex problem that needs to be looked at very realistically”.
“I would say that, in the first place, it is necessary to support those who are, the older ones, to give them the best conditions, but I believe that it is very urgent throughout this interior area, and in our area in particular, to create conditions for younger people who want to stay here, have conditions to stay here ”, he suggests.
The bishop of Vila Real considers that “when young people finish their courses, when they marry, when they form a family”, it is only possible to remain in the territory, if there are “jobs, with conditions, with careers, so that people have the opportunity to fix".
“I believe that this is one of the fundamental vectors, there will be others for sure, for people to stay in the countryside”, says the prelate.
Asked by the Renaissance, whether positive discrimination is necessary for the interior, D. António Augusto is not a great apologist and begins by stating that “the word discrimination is always a little complicated”.
“I believe that there are some measures, in the sense of recognizing that there are some costs for interiority, I think that this is necessary, that is, there are some aspects, which at the level of culture, economy, companies and other levels and transport , etc., that it is necessary to take into account, objectively ”, he defends.
The bishop of the Diocese of Vila Real reiterates that “we do not want discrimination in the sense of favoring here”, but argues that it is necessary “to recognize that, objectively, for a company, for an institution that is based in the interior, there are increased costs and this it has to be recognized ”.
He also believes that it is essential to value the territory, "we, those who are here, and help others who are in other parts of the country, to know and appreciate the immense potential and the immense wealth that is here".
“This is also another very important vector. I believe that there is still a great ignorance of the interior, its culture and its potential, there is an immense ignorance. There are many common places, but very little knowledge and, therefore, without it it is difficult to move forward. But I have hope and I believe that good measures will be taken ”, concludes the Bishop of Vila Real.
D. António Augusto Azevedo was appointed, by Pope Francisco, bishop of the Diocese of Vila Real, on 11 May and took office on 30 June 2019.