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Pope, Austrian bishops discuss Church crisis

June 17, 2009

After a 2-day meeting with a delegation of Austrian bishops, the Vatican has issued a statement reporting "a fraternal exchange of ideas with a constructive spirit." The special meeting was called to discuss the troubled situation of the Church in Austria, particularly in the Linz diocese, where the papal appointment of an auxiliary bishop sparked angry protests earlier this year. The discussion at the meeting, held at the Vatican on June 15-16, extended to a general consideration of priestly training and Church life throughout Austria.

In his remarks to the Austrian bishops, Pope Benedict XVI "highlighted the urgent importance of strengthening faith and of maintaining integral faithfulness to Vatican Council II and to the Church's post-conciliar magisterium, as well as the need to renew catechesis in the light of the Catechism of the Catholic Church," the Vatican statement said. The Catholic Church in Austria has been troubled by widespread theological dissent and breaches of clerical discipline, along with a massive exodus of the laity.

In addition to meeting with the Pope, the Austrian delegation also held conversations with the prefects of the Congregations for Bishops, for Clergy, and for the Doctrine of the Faith. The general discussions also involved the prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education, Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski; and the president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, Archbishop Stanislaw Rylko; and the papal nuncio serving in Austria, Archbishop Stephan Zurbriggen. The Austrian delegation was led by Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna.


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