Father Gerhard Swierzek, the parish priest of a small parish in the archdiocese, had refused to allow Florian Stangl, 26, to serve on the council. Stangl, who is disabled, had obtained 96 out of 142 votes in a recent parish council election.
The archdiocese had initially backed Father Swierzek, releasing a statement that living in a domestic partnership precludes one from serving on a parish council.
Cardinal Schönborn said that he had initially intended to uphold the priest’s decision–but then, he said, “I ask myself in these situations: How did Jesus act? He first saw the human being.”
Calling his decision “a decision for human beings,” the cardinal recounted that he invited Stangl and his partner to lunch and understood “why the community had given him the most votes, because he is really impressive.”
“This man is at the right place,” the cardinal said of Stangl.
Canon lawyer Ed Peters has some thoughts on this, too.