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Austrian priests' group renews defiance on Church teaching

October 10, 2011

The dissident clergy of the Austrian Priests’ Initiative have announced that they will not back away from their “Call to Disobedience” against Church authority.

Responding to a plea from Vienna’s Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, who urged the group to avoid an ecclesiastical showdown by acknowledging Church teaching authority, the newsletter of the Priests’ Initiative said that the organization’s 400 members “cannot do so in good conscience.”

“Disobeying certain valid and strict church rulings and laws has for years been part of our life and work as priests,” the newsletter said, justifying the call for disobedience of Church teaching and discipline on issues including clerical celibacy, sharing the Eucharist with Protestants, the ordination of women, homosexuality, and Communion for divorced and remarried Catholics.

In June, Vienna’s Cardinal Christoph Schönborn said that he was “shocked” by the group’s original call to disobedience, and urged members of the group to reconsider. More recently, in September the cardinal said of the dissident movement:

"If it comes to actions that clearly contradict Catholic teaching on faith then it can lead to serious conflict." The Priests’ Initiative—led by Msgr. Helmut Schüller, who was vicar general of the Vienna archdiocese until Cardinal Schönborn removed him in 1999—continue their defiance.


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  • Posted by: Bernadette - Nov. 12, 2011 6:31 PM ET USA

    The cardinal is weak. The "bottom line" is MONEY. Fear of the loss of the faithful, hence money, plus inability to maintain existing parishes without the necessary priests.

  • Posted by: BobJ70777069 - Oct. 12, 2011 8:24 PM ET USA

    In Austria, a few years ago, a woman said to me, (more or less),"Last week the Bishop concelebrated with a (Protestant) priest. The Pope wouldn't like it, but that's the Austrian way." This wasn't nipped in the bud, now it's in full bloom.

  • Posted by: DrJazz - Oct. 12, 2011 6:44 PM ET USA

    "Disobeying . . . has for years been part of our life and work as priests." They even tie their disobedience to laws that they term "valid" (i.e., correct, right, and reasonable). Wow! Time to press the red button, Cardinal, and nuke these guys.

  • Posted by: claire5327 - Oct. 12, 2011 6:38 PM ET USA

    "Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil." Msgr. Helmut Schuller and his followers know what they are doing with their Disobedience to the Magisterium; they give into temptation. Their love for Christ and His Church are taking a back seat to their lust for the "things of the world." It is better that they leave ASAP before their poison contaminates the young minds and hearts who are still under formation. "Satan, be gone!"

  • Posted by: - Oct. 11, 2011 9:48 AM ET USA

    Dear Cardinal, wow, how much longer will you allow those dissidents to be .... dissident?

  • Posted by: koinonia - Oct. 10, 2011 9:17 PM ET USA

    "Houston, we have a problem." They sound alot like Luther in responding to Card. Schonborn- "cannot do so in good conscience." Unfortunately even Luther has earned praise from the Holy Father for his "deep passion and driving force", and it seems these guys have no shortage of that as well. It's time to quit playing games with the real schismatics and heretics and call it like it is. That goes for the ones 500 years ago and especially for those still in good standing today. Souls are at stake.

  • Posted by: - Oct. 10, 2011 7:15 PM ET USA

    So, is this clear enough? If not, what more is needed? Or is the ONLY issue this: they did NOT question the prudence and clarity of Vatican II?

  • Posted by: Chestertonian - Oct. 10, 2011 7:05 PM ET USA

    Sounds as though they've made there choice and it's time to declare them anathema. The question is whether the good cardinal has the spine to do so. It should be a simple matter of declaring explicitly what the heretics have declared implicitly, although with great regret: these men have abandoned their vocations, the faithful, and the Church as the body of Christ. Pray for them, and pray for Cardinal Schonborn.