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Austrian dissident leader begins American speaking tour

Catholic World News - July 18, 2013

A dissident Austrian priest has begun his speaking tour in the US, bringing his calls for sweeping change in the Church to audiences in New York and Boston.

Father Helmut Schüller-- 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—charged that the American hierarchy is treating the Church “like a supermarket,” and denounced the closing of parishes.

The Austrian cleric spoke on July 17 at a Unitarian church in Dedham, Massachusetts, after the Boston archdiocese intervened to bar him from speaking at a nearby parish. But St. Susanna’s parish was still listed as a sponsor of the event, along with a number of dissident groups headed by Voice of the Faithful.

Speaking to an overflow crowd composed primarily of elderly Catholics, Father Schüller called for more democratic leadership in the Church. C.J. Doyle, the director of the Catholic Action League, was unimpressed with the message, saying that the Austrian priest was suggesting “conformity to the culture and surrender to secularism.”

In Philadelphia, the next stop on Father Schüller’s speaking tour, the archdiocese warned that the priest’s opinions “diverge very seriously from Catholic belief and practice.” Father Schüller will speak at Chestnut Hill College, a Catholic institution, despite the objections of Archbishop Charles Chaput. In Philadelphia, too, he has been barred from speaking at archdiocesan parishes or institutions.

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