When A appoints B to a posiition, does that mean that A thinks B is an essentially better person than others? Or does A simply think B would do a better job in that particular position? While the priest is expected to maintain a certain level of personal behavior and lead by example, it is only a small part of job. A priest (at least your standard diocesan priest) has all kinds of duties that mostly require people skills - preaching, hearing confessions, proselytizing, conflict resolution. Often they also work as part time teachers or choir masters. They take care of the physical property of the parish. Sure, you can drone through it on autopilot (cue in "10 pasternosters and 20 hailmarys, my child" scene from every other movie), but you can say that about almost all jobs. Does it mean that all jobs are bull****?
In an ideal scenario, a bishop should take all this into account before consecrating someone. It's not a promotion or a badge for the highest piety score in the parish
Your personal piety can be through the roof, but you may be wholly unsuitable for priestly duties due to massive autism. In that case, joining a contemplative order sounds like the vastly superior choice.
The reality is, that the Catholic church is globally and chronically understaffed, so you know, beggars =/= choosers and more and more priests are just weirdos. I don't mean the pedos or other major moral failings, just that they don't have the people skills etc.
As for the specific phrase "close(r) to God". I have never heard say by anyone in the know, not even when I was actually practicing and into it and my megaCatholic mother had priests and nuns over for lunch every Sunday. Maybe about the Saints (i.e. dead people), or Mary specifically. Or as a euphemism for people who are about to die. At best, it sounds like some Pentecostal cringe tbh
At worst, straight up heresy. At any rate, the doctrine is crystal clear - all men are sinners, all men are men, no man is divine (other than Christ, obviously), only God saves and only God knows who will be saved (and unlike with some other things, choose not to reveal the info).
Priests are, "of course" given respect by the believers. I know everything is framed as muh oppression and social constructs these days, but imagine, if you will, that you actually believe in God and that he sent representatives to perform rituals that make you close to God (hehe) and to clarify confusions about what ought to be done and thought. Would you not treat them with respect. I'm old enough to remember when teachers (especially in grade schools) were given similar respect by the general community, especially parents of school-age children. ****, I'm old enough to remember the Covid-19 pandemic, when half the population was kneeling and kissing the ring of the disease experts like there was not tomorrow.