Hundreds of priests in Austria are reportedly involved in an effort that has sparked criticism — but, so far, no disciplinary action. But that could soon change.
Michael Pruller, spokesman for Cardinal Christoph Schonborn of Vienna, said the cardinal plans to meet in late August or September with the Viennese priests who are among the leaders of the “Initiative of Parish Priests,” which launched a “Call to Disobedience” in June.
The initiative, which says it has just more than 300 members, suggested saying a public prayer at every Mass for church reform; giving Communion to everyone who approaches the altar in good faith, including divorced Catholics who have remarried without an annulment; allowing women to preach at Mass; and supporting the ordination of women and married men.
In a telephone interview from Vienna July 11, Pruller said that as far as he knew, the Austrian bishops have not discussed a common response to the priests.
“No bishop has threatened disciplinary actions, but at the end of the day if a priest leads his parish away from what the church teaches, action would have to be taken,” Pruller said.
The “Call to Disobedience” said the priests felt forced to follow their consciences for the good of the church in Austria because the bishops have refused to act.
Cardinal Schonborn issued a statement June 22 and said he waited three days to respond because he did not want to react “out of the anger and sorrow” the priests’ initiative caused him.
“The open call to disobedience shocked me,” he said.
The cardinal said none of the priests was ordained by force and all of them vowed obedience as they strive to do God’s will.