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Austrian cardinal fears 'serious conflict' if priests continue defiance

Catholic World News - September 19, 2011

Vienna’s Cardinal Christoph Schönborn has warned rebellious priests against their defiance Church teachings on clerical celibacy, the ordination of women, and the indissolubility of marriage.

Cardinal Schönborn has been the focal point of protests by the Priests’ Initiative, a group of about 400 Austrian priests who have announced their intention to defy Church rules on issues ranging from homosexuality and female priests to the reception of Communion by divorced and remarried Catholics. The cardinal has said in the past that he is shocked by the priests’ open defiance. But he told interviewers that he still hopes the conflict can be settled without disciplinary action. “I am counting on dialogue and cooperation," he said.

"If it comes to actions that clearly contradict Catholic teaching on faith then it can lead to serious conflict," Cardinal Schönborn said. He did not elaborate on what sort of rebellious actions might precipitate that conflict, or what the consequences might be.

The Austrian cardinal did indicate that the Priests’ Initiative could not expect him to accept their call for radical change in the Church. Doing so, he pointed out, would mean leading the Church in Austria into schism.

Radical Catholics in Austria have announced plans to step up the pressure for change, with demonstrations outside the Vienna cathedral.

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Show 6 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: stpetric - Sep. 20, 2011 9:13 PM ET USA

    I think we crossed the "serious conflict" threshold some time ago!

  • Posted by: annedanielson4099 - Sep. 20, 2011 2:25 AM ET USA

    "If it comes to actions that clearly contradict Catholic teaching on faith then it can lead to serious conflict." Their actions already clearly contradict Catholic teaching. And to think that a Cardinal who does not recognize actions that clearly contradict Catholic teaching was in charge of the YOUCAT.

  • Posted by: annedanielson4099 - Sep. 20, 2011 2:16 AM ET USA

    The Catholic Church is not in schism, just the members who profess to be Catholic while being part of an apostasy existing within The Church, simultaneously.

  • Posted by: Erik George - Sep. 19, 2011 9:13 PM ET USA

    Cardinal Schönborn wrings his hands, talks of "dialog", and makes vague warnings while the wolves are in the sheepfold devouring the flock. This is utter madness. If ever there were a time to issue anathemas and excommunicate heretics, this is it. Prayers for the cardinal to gather his courage and execute his duty as a bishop.

  • Posted by: adamah - Sep. 19, 2011 8:02 PM ET USA

    There will only be "serious conflict" if the Cardinal is actually willing to get serious about disciplining dissenters. I am not holding my breath.

  • Posted by: Steve214 - Sep. 19, 2011 6:40 PM ET USA

    "Serious conflict" for priests rejecting the teaching authority of the Catholic Church? While wanting to continue to teach (error) in their official capacities? For implicitly reject the basic premiss of the Church? Well, I suppose that is POSSIBLE--but we'll see...nothing has happened so far...

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