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Philadelphia archdiocese opposes Austrian dissident's appearance at Catholic college

July 08, 2013

Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia has voiced his opposition to a speaking appearance by a dissident Catholic priest on the campus of a local Catholic college.

Father Helmut Schüller is scheduled to speak at Chestnut Hill College, an institution run by the Sisters of St. Joseph, on July 19. Father Schüller, once the vicar general of the Vienna archdiocese, is the head of the Austrian Priests’ Initiative, which launched a “Call to Disobedience” encouraging open defiance of Church teaching on issued including homosexuality, women’s ordination, and the reception of Communion by divorced and remarried Catholics.

In June, Boston’s Cardinal Sean O’Malley announced that Father Schüller would not be allowed to speak, as originally scheduled, in a parish of the Boston archdiocese. (The Austrian priest will instead speak at a local Unitarian church.) The Philadelphia archdiocese has indicated that dissident cleric will not be allowed to speak at parishes or diocesan institutions in Philadelphia.

Although Chestnut Hill College is independent of the Philadelphia archdiocese, the archdiocese released a statement saying that the dissident Austrian priest’s appearance there “is regrettable and inevitably damages the unity of the local Church.”

“Archbishop Chaput's concerns have been communicated directly to the leadership of the college and the Sisters of St. Joseph,” the archdiocese told the Cardinal Newman Society. Nevertheless a list of Father Schüller’s speaking engagements during a summer tour of the US still lists a stop at Chestnut Hill College.


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