Schonborn on protesting priests: "I'm not ready for schism"

Austrian priests who have issued a “Call to Disobedience” have gotten an answer, and it may not be what they wanted.

Details:

The head of Vienna’s Roman Catholic community ruled out sweeping changes demanded by dissident priests and said there could be “serious conflict” if they defied Church teaching on celibacy or give communion to remarried divorcees.

Vienna Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn said he would not lead his diocese into a schism with leaders in the Vatican by letting priests flout Church rules after a group of priests issued a “Call to Disobedience” manifesto to try to press reform.

In weekend interviews with Austrian radio and television, Schoenborn backed celibacy for priests, limiting ordination to men and preserving marriage as a life-long commitment.

“If in our diocese here I would step out of line with the community of the Catholic Church then I would lead our diocese into a schism. I am not ready for this and I think no Austrian bishop is ready for this,” he said on Saturday.

Late on Friday, he again warned dissident priests that they faced consequences if they stuck to their revolt.

“If it comes to actions that clearly contradict Catholic teaching on faith then it can lead to serious conflict,” he said, adding it was not too late to reach common ground in a second round of talks due later this year.

“All possibilities are open. I am counting on dialogue and cooperation,” he said.

Dissidents led by parish priest Helmut Schueller have issued the manifesto and say they hope the campaign will persuade Schoenborn to push reforms with Pope Benedict and the Vatican.

The dissidents, who have broad public backing in opinion polls, say they will break Church rules by giving communion to Protestants and remarried divorced Catholics or by allowing lay people to preach and head parishes without a priest.

They oppose the current drive to group several parishes together because of a shortage of priests.

“We are now really going to step on the gas,” Hans-Peter Hurka, head of the Catholic reform group “We are the Church,” told newspaper Der Standard this week, announcing plans to have hundreds of demonstrators march on bishops’ offices.

Read more.

Comments

  1. dcn marv robetson says:

    From the Rites . . .

    PROMISE OF OBEDIENCE

    Do you promise obedience and respect to me and my successors?

    I do.

  2. My favorite quote of one of the activists is “We will make St. Stephen’s Square into Tahrir Square!”

    What always amazes me about “extremists” on either end of the spectrum is their arrogance. They are apparently so isolated in the cocoon of their idealogical worlds that they are unaware of how unreasonable they actually are.

  3. Nothing new here. There has been dissent as long as there have been human beings. There has been massive dissent within the Church which exploded after Vatican II not based on what was written, but what the dissenters wanted to be written.

    Not acting to end dissent by priests and bishops leads to open dissent and confusion in the pews. There are over 25000 protestant churches out there for those who no longer want to be Catholic and they are established obviously for those protesting so not sure why they stay or are allowed to be in open dissent.

    How long was Pope Paul VI, Pope John Paul II, and now Pope Benedict fighting the lies of “the spirit of vatican II” and doing so by trying to be nice, trying to convince and persuade? How many of these same issues have been out there being repeated over and over by the dissenters. It is beyound time to at least reign in all dissent with priests, bishops, cardinals, and religious. To deny a schism that already exists within the Catholic Church does not benefit anyone and leads to confusion with God’s children. There was hope that after all the years of great persuasion with JPII that when Pope Benedict XVI took over, he would act since he already had suggested that at some point the Church might become much smaller, but more devoted to the actual teachings of the Church.

  4. Tom Emmanuel says:

    Does anyone know what percentage of Vienna’s presbyterate is involved?

  5. Deacon Greg Kandra says:

    According to the most recent statistics, in 2004 there were a little over 1100 priests in the Archdiocese of Vienna (though it’s likely that number has fallen since then.) Reports indicate about 400 priests have signed on to this project.

  6. Austria is in virtual schism, like it or not. While the rebel priests are not a majority with 400 out of 1,100 priest they represent a big number, while the majority of the Catholic population according to polls supports the rebels by 75% or so.

    Supposedly a majority of Austrian priests, even those not subscribing to the recalcitrant liberal rebels, are sympathetic to their demands.

    I guess seminars in Austria did a great job in imbuing their students with a strong “Spirit of Vatican II” mystique.

  7. Rudy:

    “I guess seminars in Austria did a great job in imbuing their students with a strong “Spirit of Vatican II” mystique.”

    As someone who over the years has tried to integrate within myself as well as to teach others the Spirit AND the Letter of Vatican II, I am interested in what you mean by that comment.

  8. @HMS: Draw your on conclusions as well as any others reading the combox.

    Regards,

  9. Rudy is correct. Liberal “spirit of Vatican II” formation in seminaries under Cardinal Schonborn’s watch is no small part of this equation.

    The Cardinal himself shares responsibility for the deplorable state of the Church in Austria.

  10. Jason, I believe that his predecessor, Cardinal Hans Hermann Groër, who resigned in scandal was even more responsible for the situation in Austria. Their morale is in shambles which makes them vulnerable to dissident behavior. (It’s still not an excuse as far as I am concerned…but it is the reality).

    The sexual abuse scandal is the gift that keeps on giving.

  11. Jason:

    I am sure that you are aware the Cardinal Schönborn was the director-editor of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. (There is a 6 part series in which he presents the background and content of the Catechism. I think it is a gem.) Also, his Introduction to the Presentation of the YOUCAT (Youth Catechism of the Catholic Church) at the Vatican last April 13th can be read on various websites.

    With that in mind, I wonder if you can cite your source for your comment:
    “Liberal ‘spirit of Vatican II’ formation in seminaries under Cardinal Schonborn’s watch is no small part of this equation.”

  12. If you have this many priest in outright dissent, something very wrong was going on in the seminaries in that country. We had the same thing going on here with problems in the seminaries where those who actually believed in the actual teaching of the church were being rejected while those who were gay and or supported the gay lifestyle were being accepted. I am sure why HMS knows what the “Spirit” is when used in discussion and that it was code for open dissent of Church teaching when the words did not support the desired results. Of course we have the same thing going on during that same period with our constitution where privacy rights were discovered to make abortion legal or to make gay special rights the order of the day.

    If only we could have a church and a country where people followed what is written and if change is desired, get it changed. In the Constitution, we have an amendment process which has worked well since our founding. Not sure why women needed an amendment to vote, but gays do not have to get an amendment for the special rights of behavior.

  13. Greta:

    Again; prove your point by factual evidence!

    “We had the same thing going on here with problems in the seminaries where those who actually believed in the actual teaching of the church were being rejected while those who were gay and or supported the gay lifestyle were being accepted.”

    That was an unverified assertion published in “Goodbye Good Men” that has been happily repeated by a lot of very conservative folks like yourself. The actual Vatican “inspection” of the seminaries which did follow that publication did not find that issue anywhere near as troubling as the rumor mill placed it.

    I do not know of any major seminary in the United States that was condemned by the Vatican as a direct result of that assertion and inspection. If I remember correctly, both Cincinnati St. Mary’s and its high-school equivalent — Cincinnati St. Greg’s — were mentioned in “Goodbye Good Men.” Both were exonerated by that Vatican Commission.

    Bottom line; if you really understand what celibacy demands of those who accept it, whether one who vows celibacy is “gay” or “straight” makes no difference at all.

  14. I don’t have the statistics on priestly ordinations in the Archdiocese of Vienna, but if numbers of ordinations have been anything like those in the United States, the majority of priests in Vienna were ordained before Cardinal Schönborn became archbishop, in 1995, so blaming him for their formation is not right.

  15. Greta:

    I assure you that I am well aware of the way that the “Spirit” of Vatican can be misused but I also know that there was a definite “Spirit” that Pope John XXII wanted in the council that he convoked. This is seen most prominently in his Opening Address to the Council Fathers:

    “Nowadays however, the Spouse of Christ prefers to make use of the medicine of mercy rather than that of severity. She consider that she meets the needs of the present day by demonstrating the validity of her teaching rather than by condemnations.”

    (Another, more personal, source of my understanding of that “Spirit” comes from the letters from my uncle, who attended all four sessions. His evident love for the Church and willingness to deal with the issues within and without the Church continue to inspire me.)

    The question I was addressing in my comment, in particular to Jason, was regarding the claim that Cardinal Schönborn was responsible for the presnt dissent of the priests in Austria, given the prominent part that he played in the editing of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

  16. Deacon John M. Bresnahan says:

    With 2,500- or far more- Protestant churches anyone can choose from–Christianity doesn’t need another one. In fact, if the one, sole, stalwart Church of Tradition and traditions–the Catholic Church–becomes just another church always trying to reinvent the Faith to suit current attitudes–then there will be no choice in religion any more.

  17. Archbishop Schonborn is in my opinion orthodox and loyal and no one can deny that the Catechism work is a masterpiece of Catholic teaching. Probably most of these renegade priests were trained before he was in charge. The Archbishop has had some differences with the current pope and also in my opinion has been weak in enforcing orthodoxy and discipline for the sake of peace.

    Vatican II has been used to justify unorthodoxy and dissent, taking the original intent of openess and updating to the leghts of rebellion, heresy, undisciplined defiance and destruction of
    Catholic Tradition, identity and jettison the of the Deposit of Faith. The true spirit of Vatican II can never be a spirit of rebelliousness, dissent and heresy.

  18. Is this a mistranslation:

    “I would lead our diocese into a schism. I am not ready for this and I think no Austrian bishop is ready for this,”

    Did he really say: ” … I’m not ready for schism …”

  19. Tradical,

    Here’s the paragraph.
    “Mit Blick auf die Forderungen der Initiative sagte Kardinal Schönborn: ‘Wenn ich hier in unserer Diözese aus der Gemeinschaft der katholischen Kirche ausscheren würde, dann würde ich unsere Diözese in ein Schisma führen.’ Er stehe dafür nicht zur Verfügung und ‘ich glaube, kein österreichischer Bischof steht dafür zur Verfügung. Wir gehen zweifellos und mit aller Entschiedenheit den Reformweg des Zweiten Vatikanischen Konzils, das alle diese Forderungen, die hier aufgestellt werden, nicht vorgesehen hat.’”

    In the first place, note that the line “I would lead our diocese into schism isn’t a statement of intent. He says if he stepped out of line with the community of the Church — “aus der Gemeinschaft der katholischen Kirche ausscheren” — that would be to lead the diocese into schism.

    As for “I’m not ready for schism,” it’s a question of translating idiomatically. The article doesn’t give a direct quote but an indirect one. My little German-English dictionary gives “be available to” as the meaning of “zur Verfügung stehen.” Using that translation of the phrase, you would get, “”He is not available for that [to lead the diocese into a schism] and “I believe, no Austrian bishop is available for that. We are going doubtless and and with all determination along the path of reform of the Second Vatican Council, which did not provide for all the demands which have been put forward here.”

    Here’s a link to the complete article.
    http://www.erzdioezese-wien.at/content/news/articles/2011/09/17/a26577/

  20. HMS, where is the “spirit” used by some to dissent from what is actually in writing demonstrated in the documents that came out of the council? John XXIII may indeed have wished for the council to go in another direction, but the documents produced in fact largely reinforced long standing Church teaching. One example is how the left went after changes in the Church and used a document not even voted on by the bishops as the guide to changing church configuration and moving the tabernacle. Changes in liturgy by those in dissent are finally being corrected starting soon. Both Pope JPII and Benedict XVI have talked about correcting some of these “spirit” issues and have worked to teach what the documents actually read.

  21. Fiergenholt

    You state the book Goodbye Good Men and then state “The actual Vatican “inspection” of the seminaries which did follow that publication did not find that issue anywhere near as troubling as the rumor mill placed it.”

    Can you link to that report and this particular area?

    The Church clearly states that those with homosexual tendencies should not be admited or those who do not agree with Church teaching on homosexuality. What I found was the following which seems to say it was and continues to be a problem.

    “The report took special note of moral problems, primarily associated with homosexual behavior, in some US seminaries. While the situation has improved because of “better superiors (especially rectors),” there are “still some places– usually centers of formation for religious– where “ambiguity vis-à-vis homosexuality persists,” the document said.”

    you say “I do not know of any major seminary in the United States that was condemned by the Vatican as a direct result of that assertion and inspection. If I remember correctly, both Cincinnati St. Mary’s and its high-school equivalent — Cincinnati St. Greg’s — were mentioned in “Goodbye Good Men.” Both were exonerated by that Vatican Commission.” I know a number of priests who went through these seminaries and they say the changes to the seminary from the time they were there is like night and day and that now it is very strongly centered on the actual teaching with several Dominicans brought in to help in the formation. In addition a few nuns who use to be involved in the admission process have been removed over the last 10 years. One in particular asked about the candidates understanding on women being priests and if they admited they agreed on male only, they were sent away. Those considered to orthodox did not stand a chance and we lost several candidates to other seminaries who are now priests and doing very well. I know of three personally who were rejected in Cincinnati who are solid priests and closely tied to the teaching of the Church.

    So I am insterested to see the reports on the seminaries in the Cincinnati area by name you mention. Please add a link.

  22. naturgesetz:

    Dankeschön.

    (That is just about all I know in German.)

    This happens so much in literal translations done without context and understanding of idioms used in different languages. In my heart, I was sure that he could not have meant that statement in the way we interpret and understand it.

  23. Fierggenholt says:

    Greta #21

    You will recall my statement “if I remember correctly.”

    I do recall reading a lot of articles in the Catholic Telegraph (Archdiocese of Cincinnati newspaper) on this mess back about ten years ago. I also had, at one time, a specific issue of the internal newsletter of the “Athanaeun of Ohio” (the corporate name/entity that covers both St. Mary’s and St. Greg’s) which denied all of the accusations of “Goodbye Good Men” as well as updated the community about the ongoing Vatican “inspection.”

    I may still have those clippings but they are buried in boxes of archival stuff I have out in my off-site storage locker. If I can find those clippings, I can give you “chapter and verse” within the publications involved.

  24. Hi Nat,

    Danke.

  25. Fierggenholt, few Catholics in the Cincinnati dioceses even get the Catholic Telegraph anymore because it was filled with dissent. The Bishop wanted to prop it up and came up with an idea of forcing every parish to pay full subscription price for all their parishoners out of the collections. When word of this got out, that ended as far as I know if every parish. It might still be going on in a few, but if so, doubt the people in the pews know it.

    Again, we are on first name basis with a large number of priests who come into our home on a regular basis for a good feed, good discussion, and relaxation where they care free to be themselves without being harrassed for what they say. Many have detailed the abuses going on within the seminaries here and over time, as things got out, they were changed little by little. The coming of the Vatican inspection finished off most of the changes needed so I have not doubt that by the time of that inspection, that it went fairly well. We have been blessed to have Fr. Kyle Schnippel here at the seminary and as vocation director. Also, the new leader, Archbishop Schnurr came in with his top priority to increase vocations which was already on the upswing. The two Dominicans are now teaching at the seminary along with other solid professors. Archbishop Schnurr has also brought in someone from Archbishop Chaput old Denver dioceses, Jim Rigg, Ph.D. as Director of Educational Services and Superintendent of Catholic Schools
    for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. The goal is to have a solid single faith being taught throught the entire dioceses in all the Catholic Schools and to find ways to allow them to grow, even in the poorer neighborhoods. Vocations often come with strong Catholic Schools learning what the Church actually teaches. All good signs for our dioceses.

    This weekend, we will have a huge number of local kids at http://www.credoibelieve.org/ weekend retreat for kids from 8th through 12th grade. Deacon, you might want to highlight this in one of your post. Started a few years back and has exploded in size and with some excellent speakers, but the big thing is the kids witnessing their faith over a weekend filled with rosaries, Eucharist Adoration, and masses. I have volunteered for this since it started and I get far more witnessing this than anything I can provide.

Leave a Comment


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X