Action Alert!
Catholic World News

Cardinal Schönborn plans no disciplinary action against dissident priests

September 06, 2011

Although about 400 Austrian priests have now joined in a call for open disobedience of Church authority, Vienna’s Cardinal Christoph Schönborn does not perceive a major crisis, a spokesman has reported.

"The situation is not as dramatic as the Austrian media make it seem," Michael Pruller, the archdiocesan spokesman, told the Catholic News Service. He said that Cardinal Schönborn hopes to persuade the dissident priests to cooperate in building up the Austrian Church.

In July, Cardinal Schönborn said that he was shocked by the open defiance expressed by the Priests’ Initiative, which has encouraged pastors to defy Church rules on issues ranging from homosexuality and female priests to the reception of Communion by divorced and remarried Catholics. But—contrary to several media reports—the cardinal has not threatened disciplinary action against the dissident priests. "There has been no discussion of sanctions, no ultimatum, no talk of punishment," Pruller said.

The archdiocese is not checking to see whether Vienna priests have followed through with their promise to ignore Church law, Pruller added. "We don't send spies to all the parishes to make sure all the rules are kept," he said.

Cardinal Schönborn met in August with 4 priests of the Vienna archdiocese who are active leaders in the Priests’ Initiative, and plans to speak with them again at an unspecified future date. He has not met with the group’s national leadership. His spokesman said that a wider dialogue with the group should be conducted by the Austrian bishops’ conference.


For all current news, visit our News home page.

Further information:
Sound Off! supporters weigh in.

All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a current donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!

  • Posted by: frankg - Sep. 07, 2011 1:50 PM ET USA

    It appears to me that the current generation of "episcopal leadership" has been thoroughly schooled in the art of being complete invertibrates. The cover phrase for this ineptitude is always "being pastoral."

  • Posted by: polish.pinecone4371 - Sep. 06, 2011 11:40 PM ET USA

    Here are the possibilities: Either the Austrian media are blowing this way out of proportion or the Cardinal is ignoring it because it's something he's been dealing with since he became Ordinary -- or a combination thereof.

  • Posted by: koinonia - Sep. 06, 2011 9:42 PM ET USA

    Maybe he's waiting for them to nail their 95 Theses to his church door before he explores any options.

  • Posted by: Anselm - Sep. 06, 2011 7:27 PM ET USA

    I agree with jeremiahjj's post. The media in Austria that has been covering this are the same tabloids like we have in the US (such as the New York Times, to name one). As the Cardinal and Pope Benedict are close, I am sure the right steps are being taken. A shepherd has to reach out pastorally first before dropping the heavy hand.

  • Posted by: jeremiahjj - Sep. 06, 2011 6:45 PM ET USA

    If this is truly a problem (and it appears to be) at some point the Cardinal will have to take action. The longer he waits, the harder it will be. But only he knows the severity of the problem. He certainly should not let the Austrian media run the archdiocese for him. I trust the Holy Father to keep up with what's going on there.

  • Posted by: - Sep. 06, 2011 6:40 PM ET USA

    Simply unbelievable. So, is there no God, or do we not have souls, or is there no hell, or is there nobody in hell, or does the Cardinal not care about those being led astray? Does that no exhaust the universe of possibilities?

  • Posted by: JP810 - Sep. 06, 2011 6:39 PM ET USA

    This is no surprise to me also! Earlier in the year, Cardinal Schonborn had his hands slapped by the Vatican for his "appearance" in Medjugorje under the Bishop's radar, for his "seemingly" support for the seers inspite of the fact the Bishop's own judgement on "Medjugorje" is not good.

  • Posted by: - Sep. 06, 2011 6:18 PM ET USA

    They want "dramatic"? Let these dissidents "help build up the Austrian church" and they'll get a calamity.

  • Posted by: rpp - Sep. 06, 2011 6:14 PM ET USA

    While it is important to speak truth with charity, there comes a time when action needs to be taken. If the faithful are being confused, that is a real problem that needs corrective action. Modern political systems view public dissent and debate as an important part of civil society. Unfortunately, many try to apply those same standards to the Deposit of Faith and are offended by those who actually point out error and call it such. Or worse vilify those who enforce orthodoxy.

  • Posted by: adamah - Sep. 06, 2011 4:32 PM ET USA

    No surprise here. Of course Schonborn isn't going to do anything. Instead of "Cardinal" he should be called "ostrich" because he has really buried his head in the sand.

  • Posted by: AgnesDay - Sep. 06, 2011 4:04 PM ET USA

    As stated in the medical community: If you don't take a temperature, you can't find a fever.