"Call to Disobedience": cardinal to meet with dissident priests

"Call to Disobedience": cardinal to meet with dissident priests July 13, 2011

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.

From CNS:

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.

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31 responses to “"Call to Disobedience": cardinal to meet with dissident priests”

  1. This is beyond sad; almost makes me wonder if we are entering into the great apostocy and end times, normally not something I spend much time thinking about (except my own “end times”).

    It’s one thing for the secular to fall, but HUNDREDS of Catholic Priests? Very concerning and perhaps a “sign” not to be ignored.

    It’s also another good reminder to pray for our dear priests.

  2. Well, the prayer for church reform at mass is over-the-top, and the desire to ordain women is a non-starter.

    As for the other “reforms”: it’s fair to say that the Church already gives communion to “everyone who approaches the altar in good faith”; instances of public denial of the Eucharist are rare, despite the Church’s restrictions. (We ministers of the Eucharist can only trust that those approaching communion are in a state of grace.) The Church is already ordaining married men, in both the Eastern and Latin rite, albeit under specific circumstances for the latter; and lay preaching is common, just not at mass.

    Having said that: this kind of public protest is designed to provoke confrontation and further dissent, and cause fractures in the Body of Christ. It’s not helpful.

    Dcn. G.

  3. Whatever happened to the promise of respect and obedience to the Bishop and his successors that every priest makes at ordination?

  4. The apostasy started a long time ago, in the years following Vatican II… this is a development of that.

  5. Apostacy is too strong a word. Throw that word out of your vocabulary.

    Married priests will come. But, as with any institution, change comes from the bottom up.

    Women’s ordination to the priesthood is another matter. There is a theological argument for ordination of women to the diaconate, not the priesthood.

    As for liturgical rebellion — that is way over the top.
    God bless,

  6. These are the goals of the disobedient bunch:

    -to pray for Church reform at every liturgy, since “in the presence of God there is freedom of speech”

    -not to deny the Holy Eucharist to “believers of good will,” including non-Catholic Christians and those who have remarried outside the Church

    -to avoid offering Mass more than once on Sundays and holy days and to avoid making use of visiting priests–instead holding a “self-designed” Liturgy of the Word

    -to describe such a Liturgy of the Word with the distribution of Holy Communion as a “priestless Eucharistic celebration”; “thus we fulfill the Sunday obligation in a time of priest shortage”

    -to “ignore” canonical norms that restrict the preaching of the homily to clergy

    -to oppose parish mergers, insisting instead that each parish have its own individual leader, “whether man or woman”

    -to “use every opportunity to speak out openly in favor of the admission of the married and of women to the priesthood”

    A total dissolution of the Catholic identity really.

  7. Married priests? Unlikely. It will open a whole new can of worms. You would have parishioners paying for a family in the rectory. What happens when junior wants his first car? What model? How much money? What if there are 7 children in the family and seven cars… I can already hear the grumbling and sniping over things like that among the parishioners.

  8. I met Cardinal Schonborn once in New Orleans and set in on a seminar that he gave. He is very wise and seems to be quite a Holy man. I trust that he will come up with a Solomon-esque solution to this issue.

  9. The best solution is to suspend these disobedient bunch from their priestly functions, give them a warning and excommunicate if they persist in their disobedience. These so called “pastors” are leading their flocks to the jaws of the wolves, because they themselves are wolves in sheep disguise. I am sure they feel so heroic and “brave”, its easy to be a dissident when it implies no real sacrifice but to just be pliant to the culture at large.

  10. I think many of us do pray on a regular basis for reform in the church. The idea that the church will encourage that form of prayer within the context of the liturgy is, unfortunately, not plausible. But the Holy Spirit is not finished with the Church, so yes, we do pray for reform in the church.

    Married priests: This will happen when enough parishes, worldwide (but especially in western societies that are used to multiple weekend liturgies), find themselves without a priest on a regular basis or just plain closed down. My gut tells it’s a matter of ten or twenty years before we see married priests. One or two popes down the road, maybe three.

    Women priests: Despite all the people claiming that the Church will not do this because “it cannot do it,” this too will happen, albeit probably not for another fifty years. Could be a hundred, I dunno. But eventually it will happen, and the Church–and the faithful–will be better for it.

    I don’t want the Mass turned into a form of social protest. The Mass is a time of worship. But at some point, some group of bishops–and then, someday, a particularly compassionate pope–will listen to what the faithful are saying, the lived experience of the faithful at ground level. Because the Holy Spirit is present in the faithful, too, not just in those members of the church who have the fanciest hats and garments.

  11. “Wherefore, in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church’s divine constitution itself, in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren (cf. Lk 22:32) I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church’s faithful.” John Paul II, Ordinatio Sacerdotalis

    “I declare” are pretty strong words from a Pope who is now beatified. To say with certitude “that it will happen”as Steve does in comment 10 above is just baseless.

  12. “Women priests: Despite all the people claiming that the Church will not do this because “it cannot do it,” this too will happen, albeit probably not for another fifty years. Could be a hundred, I dunno. But eventually it will happen, and the Church–and the faithful–will be better for it.”

    As a recovering feminist and convert from Protestantism, woman pastors do not help. In less then a generation they were going to “re-imagining God” conferences and wanting to totally rework doctrine. Women and men are different and God gives them different functions.

  13. These Austrian priests already have this option; it is call “protestanism”.

    2 Peter 2:1-22

  14. These Austrian priests already have an option; it is call “protestantism”.

    2 Peter 2:1-22

    I hate misspelling a word….

  15. Schoeborn is a born aristocrat. The one good thing you can say about those born and raised aristocratic is that they have a personality that will not abide toddy ism. We have too many toddies already. He will stand up pastorally and if he handles this well with his priests the next conclave may bring hope.

  16. While I love Elizabeth Scalia, I wonder how this ties in with her post today “Heresy is Rare and Everywhere” and its call for tolerant and respectful language. I would suspect that on the other side of these priests are the “true” Catholics and one would hope a very strong Church leadership because what they are facing is certainly heresy in its most public form. It needs to be met with strong force and as then Cardinal Ratzinger once said, we might end up with a much smaller in number church, but one with those who know the teaching of the Church and who have bought into the sacrifice and pain we will all face in following Christ. There is a war going on between good and evil and the Catholic Church has been front and center of that war since our founding. You cannot negotiate with evil. We did not see Jesus in the desert, but a total rejection of evil. we live in a world which is totally at odds with our faith and thus will never feel at home or at ease in that world and the Church has called on the layity in that world to stand up for the Catholic Church and Her teachings. If we have to get smaller and lose butts in the seats, so be it. I do not in any way claim to be close to holy or a saint and have my own problems, but I do not dissent from settled church teaching and wish Church leadership would stand strong on those teachings and stop the outright lies and distortions from within. Women can never be priests…settled as now or ever in the future can the Church do what Christ chose not to do. You get one shot at marriage and divorce does not fit in requiring strong proof that the first marriage was not a proper sacrament in annulment. If living without this, it is a grave sin and profaning the Eucharist will certainly not help. These priests should have been kicked out of the system somewhere in the seminary stage and now seems like a good time to drive the point home.

  17. Let’s tone down the rhetoric, shall we? Heresy, apostasy? Strong words of last resort.
    I think there is an important and unasked question: What set of conditions would bring this many men, men who we might, because of our differing expressions of ecclesiology, forget have dedicated their lives to the church, what would bring this many of them to take such a position?

    Simplistic and “definitive” solutions to complex problems are not what we need. Is fracture what we’re really after?

  18. Sorry John but you’re wrong.

    Apostasy is the perfect word. Why would one “throw it out of their vocabulary?”

    And we are not “entering” an apostasy. We are smack in the middle of worldwide apostasy.

    These dissident priests are abandoning their vows and challenging DOGMA. That, sir, is apostasy. They should be dealt with severely. I doubt Cardinal Schonborn has it in him.

    These apostate priests in Austria, that’s right John, apostate, enjoy “full communion.” The SSPX clergy, on the other hand, are on the outside looking in.

  19. Jason #20

    “The SSPX clergy, on the other hand, are on the outside looking in” by their own choice and nobody else’s.

  20. While the Austrian priests have issued a call to disobedience, the SSPX heeded the call and disobeyed. They are worse than the Austrian priests because they sinned, while the Austrians are only contemplating it at this point. The SSPX have been for years what the Austrian priests only threaten to become. Numerous times the SSPX have been invited, encouraged, urged to return to the communion of Christ’s Church, founded on the rock of Peter, and every time they have proudly, stubbornly, arrogantly, and disobediently refused God’s invitation sent through his holy ministers.

  21. @Steve:
    “These dissident priests are abandoning their vows and challenging DOGMA. That, sir, is apostasy.”

    No it’s not. From Catholic Enclyclopedia:
    “The word itself in its etymological sense, signifies the desertion of a post, the giving up of a state of life; he who voluntarily embraces a definite state of life cannot leave it, therefore, without becoming an apostate. Most authors, however, distinguish with Benedict XIV (De Synodo di£cesanâ, XIII, xi, 9), between three kinds of apostasy: apostasy a Fide or perfidi£, when a Christian gives up his faith; apostasy ab ordine, when a cleric abandons the ecclesiastical state; apostasy a religione, or monachatus, when a religious leaves the religious life.”

    Basically it’s the renunciation of your faith. These priest – while I completely disagree with them – have not renounced Christ.

    I’m with Klaire in Comment number 1. To see this from several hundred priests is disheartening.

  22. @#7 Brother Jeff: With respect, your remarks about having a family in the rectory and junior wanting a car are absurd. We are paid the same as a celibate priest — no more, no less. If Father and his wife can buy a car on their combined income, they do. If they can’t, they don’t. We choose ordination knowing we’ll not have much materially, indeed far less than celibate priests because the salary has to be spread much thinner. But it’s more than worth it knowing that we are in the true Church established by our Lord. If you’ve never attended a Mass celebrated by a Pastoral Provision priest, I urge you to do so. You will never hear liberal Unitarian crap from the pulpit, and you will never see the liturgical shenanigans that are endemic to so many of our other Catholic parishes. The priesthood and Church are precious to us, and our place in the Church has come at the price of our livelihood, many of our friendships, and in many cases, the loss of the love of our parents and siblings. Please spare the snark. You don’t know what you’re talking about.

  23. @Manny:
    “Apostasy ab ordine” fits perfectly. They have decided to remove themselves from their vows of obedience to Rome, which are a fundamental part of the priesthood; if you renounce obedience to Rome, then you have renounced your priesthood.

    “Strong words of last resort”? When would you have us use them, if not now, when their dictionary definitions are clearly met?

    These priests have forgotten their place, if they ever knew it to begin with. They promised – they vowed – that they would never break allegiance with Rome, that they would always submit to Rome in obedience. Their vows were supposed to be as indissoluble as a consummated marriage. What is their word worth, if they break their greatest and most solemn promise, and for reasons that cannot be justified? How can anyone trust a man who stakes his entire life on his vow to do one thing, then does another? Impossible. These priests need to take a long, hard look at what they are threatening to do, and what it means theologically. The Roman Catholic Church hinges upon its assertion that all of its dogmas are true. If one is proven to be false, then the whole Church’s authority (and, thus, the Church itself) falls apart like a house of cards. In challenging a dogma, these priests challenge the validity of the Roman Catholic Church itself. They cannot attack the Church’s authority and simultaneously remain faithful Catholics – to do so is doublethink, self-contradiction, and intentional self-excommunication.

  24. I believe this IS an apostasy. In a sense these priests have renounced Christ because they have renounced obedience and orthodoxy. I would definitely call that apostasy. Given the condition of the Church in Europe (and America), I WOULD consider this to be the great apostasy predicted by the Apostle Paul.

  25. A lot agonizing about something so simple. These priests are wolves dressed as sheep. If not intentionally, well, they are deceived by the father of lies.

  26. Some think the number makes of these priest make a difference. It does not. All it signals is how far the Church in that country has strayed from Catholic teaching. Get them out and start over if necessary. Can we not find 5 or 10 faithful Catholics in that place or has it become Sodom.

  27. I see the posters here that think reform is when the Pope waking up someday and thinking ‘maybe we can ordain some of these 10s of thousands married deacons The married converts priests seem to be working out’
    Nah.. reform comes from push..

  28. I agree with Greta, #28. A wise priest once told me, “democracy is the best form of government, but it’s a terrible way to run a church.” A non-Catholic friend just sent me an article about a movement in America to “boycott” Sunday Mass until women are ordained priests. Some people just don’t understand the nature of the Church. And it’s sad when those people are Catholic.

  29. My most sincere and heartfelt prayers for Vienna, his Eminence, and the Church of Austria. Words cannot suffice the sadness this causes me. It just breaks my heart that things have gotten so belligerently prideful and disobedient.

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