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Leader of dissident Austrian priests' group continues campaign for changes in Church

Catholic World News - September 05, 2012

The head of a dissident group of Austrian priests has renewed his call for “a new model of leadership” in the Catholic Church, in an interview circulated by the Catholic News Service (CNS), an agency sponsored by the US bishops’ conference.

Msgr. Helmut Schüller, the leader of the Austrian Priests’ Initiative, defended the “Call to Disobedience” that his group had issued, and complained that Pope Benedict XVI had not responded to the group’s request for a meeting.

In his homily at the Chrism Mass on Holy Thursday, Pope Benedict had made a clear allusion to the Austrian group, remarking that “a group of priests from a European country issued a summons to disobedience,” and questioning how such a direct challenge to Church authority could be compatible with Catholic faith:

Do we sense here anything of that configuration to Christ which is the precondition for true renewal, or do we merely sense a desperate push to do something to change the Church in accordance with one’s own preferences and ideas?

Msgr. Schüller refused to back away from the Call to Disobedience in his CNS interview, and reiterated his group’s objections to Church teachings on issues that include the ordination of women, homosexuality, and divorce and remarriage. “It is no longer enough to say ‘No’ or to tell people that they have to be obedient or say something is not allowed,” he said. Parishes facing a shortage of priests should “make their own decisions,” Msgr. Schüller told CNS. “At the moment there is a very strong dependency on the bishops and their decisions,” he lamented, and the structure of authority in the Church should be changed.

In a reference to Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna, who has repeatedly warned members of the Priests Initiative but has not taken serious disciplinary action, the CNS story reported: “Cardinal Schonborn has been credited with circumventing an escalation of the standoff in Austria.”

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  • Posted by: Dan - Sep. 06, 2012 1:35 PM ET USA

    Dear Msgr Schuller, You are in luck (as opposed to blessed)! The "reforms" you seek have been ratified and implemented by various and sundry Protestant churches, and the fruits of their "openness", "forward-thinking", and "self-actualizing" inclinations are there for all to regard. But don't delay: neither their theology nor their congregations will survive the next generation. Then again, maybe that's the point of your "reforms" in the first place.

  • Posted by: Niklas - Sep. 06, 2012 2:45 AM ET USA

    Why is this protestant still a monsignore? Why is Schonborn not acting?

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