From the land of Mozart, Haydn, Bruckner, Schubert…

You’ve perhaps heard about the turmoil in the Austrian Catholic Church. Pope John Paul II and the Roman authorities decided early on to rein in the Austrians and restore good order and discipline in the Church. It pretty much blew up in their face, and seems to have given new life to progressive reform movements in the Austrian Catholic Church.

The whole saga is tragic, and quite unbelievable to us in the English-speaking world who tend to be more docile and passive. I was in Austria for four years of distressing excitement during my doctoral studies in the 90s and I’ve followed things there ever since. Extremely controversial appointments of bishops; laity lying on the pavement to prevent the procession from entering the Vienna cathedral at one ordination; thousands of laity staging several demonstrations in cathedral square calling for the removal of Bishop Krenn; Cardinal Groer refusing to speak to the charges of abusing several young men; Pope John Paul shutting down any investigation of the Cardinal; over half a million signing a petition for massive church reforms; dozens of priests refusing to say Bishop Krenn’s name in the eucharistic prayer; Bishop Krenn dismissing homosexual activity and child pornography in his seminary as harmless play of young lads (he was finally removed from office); and on and on.

Today we hear that the Holy Father has reminded Cardinal Schönborn of Vienna that only the Pope judges cardinals, and Schönborn should not have criticized Cardinal Sodano for giving bad advice to John Paul II and for offending abuse victims. I suspect this will not go down well with the Austrians. The impression that Rome demands absolute obedience and does not permit free expression could lower the Pope’s credibility in Austria even more.

We reported earlier that 327 Austrian clergy have called on the Pope either to address directly his actions in the CDF, or to resign from office. Today ORF (Österreichischer Rundfunk, “Austrian Radio”) reports on a poll of Austrian clergy. 81% favor the abolition of mandatory celibacy, 51% favor the ordination of women. More than half believe that Rome’s handling of the sex abuse scandal has been “poor” (“schlecht,” could also mean “terrible”). 80% believe that the sex abuse scandal should be taken as the occasion for a fundamental rethinking of the Church’s approach to sexuality. 48% find Church leadership “helpless” and “without vision.” 52% agree that they think differently than the Church leadership on many questions.

I wonder what they would think about Rome giving them a newly translated missal…


  1. Some of the trends mentioned above shows the vital need for a more accurate, faithful, and transforming translation of the liturgy. In other words, these trends evidence the tragic failure of previous pastoral practices and the need for far reaching clerical reform.

    1. Robert, the German translations are already accurate on the whole. What are you talking about, and what information are your assertations based on? Surely you’re not claiming that innacurate English translations (familiar to you) caused the Austrian problems?!

  2. Father, do you believe the vast majority of the fault lies with the Church authorities alone, or can we attribute some cause to the protesting priests and laity as well?

    You say us Americans tend to be more docile and passive, which might be true, but it seems that the American Church has, for instance, the much stronger child protection policy. Could it be that American protest has been more constructive and realistic in its goals? Maybe we’re just more practical? Not to say that our way is better… I hold practically and idealism both in high esteem.

    1. Jeff, you raise an interesting question which I’ve been thinking about lately. In general, I think that there is fault on all sides in any disagreement. The protesting priests and laity are not without fault. From my limited view, though, most of the blame is with JP2 and the Vatican in this case. Such bad judgment, such horrible appointments (circumventing normal processes and ignoring what the Congregation for Bishops recommended), such egregious misperception of the situation, such insensitivity to the vast majority of people. By way of analogy, if my interactions with others repeatedly elicit from them ill will and uncharitable comments toward me, their reactions have elements of sin, but I have to ask myself why I keep eliciting such reactions. The hierarchy has managed to bring out the worst in the Austrians. I hope the hierarchy looks at what it has done to elicit such a rebellious spirit.

  3. Sometimes a line of Scripture just reaches out and grabs hold of us. From yesterday’s readings:

    But if you go on biting and devouring one another, beware that you are not consumed by one another. – Gal. 5.

    Initially I was struck by this line because of particular back-n-forth amongst my confreres in religious community – quite a normal happening in that context as well as within a family.

    I was struck by this line also in a wider sense by the happenings of this particular story. Fraternal and paternal correction might best be done in a more private manner, though sadly in this day and age, “private” manner elicits concepts such as backroom, obscure rather than transparent, shame instead of liberation.

    The more we bite, the more we consume, and the less energy and focus is placed upon proclaiming the Good News. I can’t help but think we are being laughed at by the Evil One.

  4. John Allen reported on the Holy See’s perception that the German missal is in need of reform in 2003:

    In summary, all is not well with their liturgical translations or there would not be a need to bring it in to conformity with LA. I think the problems in the German-language Church precedes Pope John Paul II but at least we can agree that a German pope is well positioned to clean things up.

    1. This news is seven years old. I’m told that the rejection of the Vatican’s new German text was so resounding that all have agreed to retain the current German missal for the most part, with only minor changes where the deviation from Latin is most marked.
      “at least we can agree…” Speak for yourself! Let the rest of us speak for what we agree to! I have agreed to no such thing. Pope Benedict’s first appointment in Germany, very conservative Bishop Mixa to Augsburg, has blown up in his face after the bishop denied beating children, then threatened to sue them for libel, then realized he may have slapped one or the other, then was caught having stolen some $140,000 from a children’s home for art objects and fine wine for himself, then it was reported that he made sexual advances on seminarians, then 10 priests from the last two ordination classes issued an open letter attesting to the bishop’s faults. The Pope has accepted his resignation. I haven’t yet seen Pope Benedict clean up much of anything, but I’m hoping he does at some point. I’m praying for him.

    1. No, not yet – Sodano is still a member of the College of Cardinals in good standing. And no one has explicitly apologized to Maciel’s victims on behalf of JP2. (I can think of only one person who possibly has authority to do so…) Maciel’s victims have asked to meet the Pope but so far have gotten no response. And we don’t yet know whether the visitation will deal fully with all the issues, including examination of how the structure of the Church made it possible for Maciel to operate, or whether there will be just enough tough-sounding words to allow the Holy See to sit it out while giving the impression of doing something.

  5. Wikipedia “Data for the end of 2008 published by the Austrian Roman Catholic church shows a further reduction to 5,579,493 members or 66.8% of the total Austrian population, and a Sunday church attendance of 698,527 or 8% of the total Austrian population.”

    Perhaps if only 8% of Austrians are attending Mass on Sundays, we shouldn’t worry too much about what Austrians priests think about celibacy. They seem to be becoming irrelevant.

    If they had more active parishioners, they would be too busy to think about getting married. [Even though ordained priests and deacons would never be allowed to marry].

    1. With those statistics you have to wonder what is going on. Is the fault of John Paul II, as the editor states? Was everything going along fine until October 1978 (which is about the same time the Holy Spirit left the Church according to some, after it returned in 1960)? Was it the education and theology of the priests? Was it something in the overall culture? Is eliminating celibacy going to bring back the other 92 percent?

      1. Christopher, For Pete’s sake who said the Holy Spirit left the Church in October 1978? I’ve never heard that in my life, until your post. Of course not everything was going along fine until October 1978, it never is entirely in the Church. But there were no public protests and demonstrations and petitions of this magnitude before JP2. I don’t think anyone would deny that the problems started mostly under JP2, nor would anyone try to defend what he did to the Austrian Church – except you perhaps?
        JP2 ignored all the recommendations of the Congregation for Bishops and appointed as archbishop of Vienna, without consulting anyone or doing any background check, a pious monk he once met who started a Marian shrine. It later came out that the day the appointment was announced, a Benedictine official said, “Let’s hope his past never comes out, it would be disastrous.” It did, and it was. I think the issue is larger than eliminating celibacy, your citing of which is a red herring – it is a structural, systemic defect in our church organization which made (and makes) all this possible. You’re attempting to defend the indefensible.

      2. Well after reading comment after comment on blogs, and hearing in person, how the Spirit filled the Church after Vatican II and has been stifled and sent away since that fateful election in 1978 and has been absent in all work of the Church since then, it is a conclusion that can be drawn. And what am I defending? If only 8% of the population attends Mass, then there are serious problems–which are likely caused by many factors. Perhaps that percentage went from 100 to 8 solely because of JPII, or maybe there are a variety of factors?

      3. “The Spirit has been absent…in ALL work of the Church… since 1978”: source, please, for someone who actually said this?
        For the record, I didn’t bring up church attendance, nor did I make any connection between JP2 and church attendance. The connection I did make, and which I stand by, is between his failed policies in Austria and the very public reform and rebellion movements in Austria.

      4. So perhaps your reply to my comment about the Mass statistics was a little off topic and out of line?

      5. Umm, I think I adressed the Mass attendance issue, which was in YOUR post, rather directly. What is the problem?

    2. You know, Ray, good point – it’s only a bit under 700,000 people going to Church on Sunday. Write ’em off, as I’m sure Jesus has. Anything less than a million souls is “irrelevant.” That simplifies things! We have no issues to look at, no self-examination to do.

  6. I concur that it is difficult to appoint good bishops. The (Belgian) Jean Jadot bishops here in the states prove that. A Franciscan priest once told me that whenever significant numbers of bishops are generated out of religious orders the Church is facing problems.
    Fr. Anthony-I realize the NCR story was seven years old which is why I was surprised about the suggestion that all was well with the existing German translation.
    I think Ray’s point is a good one. The clerics in Austria seem to have failed pastorally and they need to own their failure. Like so many religious movements that exchange revealed religion for social justice these clerics and undoubtedly many religious have focused on changing the Church rather than allowing the faith to change them. The idea that 50% of priests in Austria would support the simulation of the sacraments by ordaining women is illustrative of their problems unrelated to the appointment of an ineffective or immoral bishop. Recall that Benedict appointed Fr. Wagner to Linz and only faced clerical resistance. No one has reported that this priest had any faults beyond his considered view that God does continue to intervene directly in the affairs of men.

  7. While I’m not qualified to comment on the internal Church politics of Austria or Belgium, John Allen writes some interesting things yesterday concerning Belgium which seems to have some parallels with the Church in Austria.
    “A 2008 study by Leuven University, for example, found that only about seven percent of Belgian Catholics attend Mass on a weekly basis, down from 11 percent a decade earlier. Only half of newborn children in Belgium today are baptized, the same study found, and only one-quarter of couples in Belgium today choose to be married in the church.
    Ambivalence about the Catholic church, and the Vatican in particular, can be glimpsed from the way Belgium responded to the controversy last year over Benedict XVI’s remarks en route to Africa to the effect that condoms make the problem of AIDS worse. While those words triggered wide debate, only in Belgium did the national parliament formally vote to censure the pontiff. ”
    Now Belgium has had a very liberal Cardinal until recently and this decline happened on his watch. As well, one of his protege bishops just resigned acknowledging that he is a child molester. Seems that this horror crosses the boundaries of progressive or traditionalist.
    What I find more troubling about Europe and its Christianity is that it often succumbs to the politics of the day, whether Nazism, Communism, Fascism or today the more benign secularism. By my reading of the facts, that is precisely where the rebellious clergy and laity of Austria seem to have succumbed, to secularism, as others in Europe’s past did to more malignant ideologies. It’s very sad indeed. As far as liberalism in the Catholic Church, it is a failed experiment.

    1. Again, my point concerned the relationship between Vatican/hierarchy and the protest movements in Austria. I have never tried to connect church leadership and church attendance, as Fr. Allan and others want to do, nor would I. There are way too many other factors at work.
      Few people, I think, would call the Belgian Cardinal, or his protege bishop “very liberal.” I wouldn’t.
      Calling for accountability, transparency, collegiality – this is “succumbing to the politics of the day”?? But when the Church adopted absolute monarchy 1600 years ago, this was not succumbing to the politics of the day, and is beyond question? I don’t buy it.

      1. Well, Fr. Anthony, I don’t disagree with you about transparency and involving the clergy and laity in selecting bishops. But you would have to be blind to say that the liberalizing, secularizing influences on the Church in Europe have been good. It is a failed experiment. Now, if the experiment had provided the opposite of what I describe, then it would have succeeded. I don’t know about the absolute monarchy of 1600, but did Church attendance decline to 7% of the Catholic population? I suspect if the 7% of Catholics attending Mass could have elected their own bishop, the situation in Austria would still be abysmal. But I do believe that if the Catholics, lay and clergy were a little less obtuse toward authority, even authority it elected, there might be greater harmony in Austria amongst the 7% who are faithful Catholics.

      2. Then I guess you do think I’m “blind” ! 🙂 In this sense: I do not assume that the low church attendance is the result of what you call “liberal secularizing influence.” Where is your proof that it is?? Too many other things are at play. (I think I’ve written this about a hundred times now.) Pope JP2 appointed more conservative bishops, but attendance did not go up. I think a good question would be: “How can the Church be most faithful to Jesus, whether numbers go up or down?” Our numbers went up the most under the more or less forced mass conversions after Constantine, but I’m not sure the authorities acted with true faithfulness to Jesus.

      3. I wouldn’t say that absolute monarchy in the church goes back to Pope Damasus, though he was later put to that purpose. To me, that affirms an anachronistic perspective, albeit unintentionally. In fact, what’s remarkable is how collegial (and often vexing) the exercise of most authority remained, even with the post-Hildebrandine assertions of universal authority in the 11th-13th centuries. It’s not really until the post-Napoleonic era that one finds the kind of effective absolute exercise of central authority that earlier eras espoused but could not fully effectuate. A lot of people don’t really grasp how unusual the current state of affairs is when considered over the course of church history.

      4. Karl – good point, and I agree. I handily (sloppily?) used “1600 years ago” to refer, roughly, to the change that came with Constantine. This change made the eventual adoption of papal absolute monarchy possible, but, as you suggest, it was a long time in the making. There were many synodal and collegial elements for many centuries, and the Popes didn’t begin appointing virtually all bishops until the 19th century.

      5. Fr Ruff

        I am one of those historically-oriented people who thinks *far* too much has been made of Constantine in this regard, even Theodosius I or Justinian I (though Justinian is more plausible than the others, but not so much in West).

      6. Anthony,

        I think your chronology is also a bit off in speaking of “forced conversions” after Constantine — unless you mean well after Constantine (e.g. 75 years). The surge after Constantine had more to do with the new respectability of the Church. not the most inspiring motive for conversion, but also not exactly “forced.”

        Having lived for a couple of years in Belgium (and therefore being an expert), I think there are many factors at play in the decline of the Church. My own sense is that the Church had a very tight control on civil society, including running most of the major educational and welfare institutions, and once it loosened its grip just a little in the 60s people found the freedom so intoxicating that they decided to throw off the yoke of the past entirely. The Church responded by trying to make itself as innocuous as possible, by allowing to flourish the idea that Catholicism was now something of a do-it-yourself affair (write your own liturgies, make up your own catechism, etc.). I don’t think it’s a matter of the Church in Belgium being too liberal or not liberal enough. It is a matter of a Church being identified with a culture so deeply that it is willing to do anything to retain it’s cultural position, even to the point of hollowing itself out entirely.

      7. Fritz, thanks for this helpful info. Oh, I was thinking not only of at least 75 years – I’m satisfied if I can get all that stuff way back there within a couple centuries! 🙂 I’m a theologian, not a historian, and I have to keep reminding myself to attend to details, not just general theories!

  8. I firmly believe, given the fact that many Americans and a very large number of European Catholics prefer the ideologies of politics over Church teaching that what has happened in Austria would have happened even if the Austrians had had a chance to elect their own hierarchy.

    John Allen in yesterday’s article also says the following about Belgium: “Benedict’s choice of Léonard, 70, to replace Danneels further aggravated backlash against the church in some quarters. Deputy Prime Minister Laurette Onkelinx, a leading French-speaking member of the Socialist Party, charged that Léonard’s staunch ethical traditionalism would endanger the “Belgian compromise” between believers and secularists – an informal “live and let live” agreement to avoid open cultural war. For much the same reason, Le Soir called the appointment “stupefying.” ”

    We you read “staunch, ethical traditionalism” one should read the Catholic Church and what she believes and tries to bring to culture as a community of believers and as a structured institution. This truth and thrust is passe in most of Belgium, Austria and other parts of Europe.

    When you have 93% of the Catholic population not practicing the faith, just what the hell are they practicing? I suspect for some who might have a guilty conscience about not practicing the faith, blaming Pope John Paul II, sex scandals and a monarchical form of doing things soothes them. But who knows but God?

  9. F C Bauerschmidt –I appreciate your insights. I think what we have to also look at is the “Dutch Catechism” of the 1960’s and how this influenced Catholic attitude about our beliefs and relationship to Church authority. Holland is another study in the failure of “liberalism” in the Church and its compromise with secularism. There’s a video on Rorate Caeli of the retired Cardinal of Belgium celebrating the Eucharist prior to his retirement. It’s the Mass, but the altar is one of the strangest I’ve every seen and the Mass is certainly unique when compared to that from which the OF evolved. I would avoid going to a Mass like that like the plague. No wonder only 7% go to Mass. Finally, John Allen reports on what the pope said at Mass this morning:
    “In his homily this morning, Benedict XVI told the archbishops that their connection with the papacy is a “pledge of liberty,” insulating them from the pressure of “local powers, national or international,” and assuring their “full adherence to the truth and to the authentic tradition” of the church.
    Benedict also returned to a theme made familiar by the sexual abuse crisis: The greatest threat to the church, the pope said, comes not from exterior challenges but from whatever “pollutes the faith and Christian life … damaging the integrity of the mystical body, weakening its capacity for prophecy and witness, and tarnishing the beauty of its face.”
    The pope said that some Catholic communities around the world are threatened by persecution or political interference, but in other places, the challenges are more subtle, taking the form of misleading doctrine or ideological tendencies and practices contrary to the gospel.” Couldn’t have said it better myself! 🙂

    1. It took me a bit of poking around to find the video ( but I’ve got to say that the Mass recorded there was a good deal more “orthodox” that what we got on a weekly basis. The Cardinal actually used an authorized Eucharistic Prayer (one of the “Swiss” canons) for Pete’s sake! We typically got something composed by Huub Oosterhuis in 1975.

      It also reminded me that the Flemish have far better taste in music than most American Catholics.

    2. Fr. Allan, you might be interested in the book “The Deferred Revolution” by Walter Goddijn. It is carefully researched and packed with data. It was a mind-blower for me, because I had always believed (especially as a very conservative undergrad) that everything went to the dogs in Holland after Vatican II, that disrespect for authority and tradition was most egregious, and the result was the collapse of the Church. Goddijn’s data shows the exact opposite. The Dutch bishops introduced collegial measures involving the entire church in decision-making, and data shows that respect for the authority of bishops was higher, way higher, than in any neighboring country (France, Germany, etc.) Respect for authority, for bishops, went UP in Holland in the years after Vatican II (yes, this is really true). When the Roman crackdown began already under Paul VI, disillusionment set in, and respect for bishops and for Rome plummeted. I know this doesn’t fit preconceived stereotypes, but Goddijn shows that it is what really happened.

      1. Thanks for the name of the book and I will try to get it. I would be interested in knowing what time period is measured. I think throughout the world immediately after Vatican II there was great euphoria in many places about many things and people for the most part liked the idea of consultative bodies and having a part in decision making. All this of course came on the heals of great respect for the clergy and the hierarchy. We were on pedestals well into the mid 1970’s. But the respect that people of the pre-to post Vatican II Church had for the Church and her clergy has not been handed onto subsequent generations who had faulty catechesis and felt more inclined to be influenced by the media and their celebrities. Again I would like to emphasize that I’m not opposed to transparency and consultative bodies even in the election of bishops. I think it is a wise bishop who has a diocesan pastoral council as well as a presbyteral council and wise pastor who has consultative bodies, i.e. pastoral council and finance council and lots of committees.

      2. Fr. Allan, thanks much for your response but perhaps you missed one point I tried to make. Respect for the hierarchy increased in Holland, unlike in neighboring countries. High respect for the hierarchy came AFTER the collegial actions of the bishops, and this separated Holland from neighboring countries. The point is, you can’t dismiss the Dutch data as part of a general trend happening everywhere in the 60s, because the data shows a connection between the Dutch hierarchy’s actions and the people’s respect for the hierarchy.

      3. I understand what you are saying and I agree with you about collegiality, but what time period is measured and is it that way today and what percentage of Catholics go to Mass in Holland today? The respect for the hierarchy might be very high in places that no longer accept orthodox Catholic teaching especially on the hot button issues of the day. So you can have a very popular bishop who teaches heresy. I think Bishop Robinson of the Episcopal Church is quite popular in Vermont. Is that the way we should go?

      4. Fr. Allan, you probably already guessed that I’m not in favor of really, really popular heretics in the episcopate! In fact the Dutch bishops, at the national synods they led, allowed the laity and clergy real decision-making authority, while reserving a veto right if the college of bishops, based on their apostolic authority, thought this necessary. They pledged not to exercise this veto unless they believed it truly necessary. They did veto the majority decision on one issue – I don’t recall now what it was. Polls showed that the laity accepted the bishops’ veto, despite their disappointment, because they had such high respect for the bishops who involved them so deeply in the decision-making process. This seems, to me, like an ideal relationship between people, clergy, and bishops. What a shame that Paul VI shut it down, and the bishops appointed by him did not enjoy much credibility on the part of the people or clergy.

  10. AWR – wise words but good luck trying to convince a few of these souls. Just enjoy how history is being re-written.

  11. The root of discord when it comes to the Church in Austria appears to be a rejection of fidelity to Peter, that is to say, of authority. Whatever drift that was allowed to proceed through the 1960s and 1970s caused a great deal of confusion and disorder; by the time Pope John Paul II stepped in, there was, I suspect, no easy way to address the issue. Let’s not forget that the Cardinal Archbishop of Vienna at that time was Franz König, who was a central figure and leader of what is sometimes called the Rhine Coalition and what flowed into (by many twists and turns) what could be called the hermeneutic of discontinuity. It is extremely important to stress that the episcopacy of Austria and indeed many of the Rhineland countries responded coldly to the Pope’s efforts beginning in the 1980s.

    All of this reminds me of a phrase from the student riots and protests of 1968 in France: “Mangez vos professeurs!” In other words, what we are dealing with here is a pathology where otherwise healthy individuals are attacking authority, order, and coherence. The subsequent effect of this is an alienation from Catholic truth and the deposit of faith. Attempting to reduce the Church to social action or otherwise removing its vertical and supernatural nature denies it (at least in part) and leaves us prisoners to our own devices in a world with no transcendent sense. It is impossible to cultivate charity without looking to its source, who is Christ, and His vicar, the Holy Father.

    1. (Contd.)

      It is my contention that some individuals in the Church in Austria react against things like celibacy, a male priesthood, and teachings on human sexuality because they are all signposts of the authority. This is the authority that the Church legitimately possesses and wields for offering of sacrifice and the salvation of souls. To attack this authority is to attack the Church, who is our mother, and Christ, who is our Head. It is therefore a death wish, a disordered turning away from grace into selfishness and destruction. In a word, this is sin.

      Luckily for us, Jesus Christ Himself proclaimed that the Church will endure and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it. Today is the great Feast of Sts Peter and Paul, apostles and martyrs, on whom the Church was founded and who went out to evangelize the gentiles, respectively. Come what may, the Church will persist because of the very fact that she is a supernatural body. The very words of Christ established the Church and the Petrine Office. Regardless of the vicissitudes of history, this is and has been an organizing principle of the faith and economy of the Church. Above all, charity, which covers a multitude of sins, and in every case through Jesus Christ and our Holy Father.

      1. Timothy, – so the Roman hierarchy is without fault, in your view, and laity who raise any questions are simply wrong and tainted with sinfulness? Good heavens. The Pope broke the rules in appointing Cardinal Groer, he didn’t do a background check. The Cardinal was guilty of abusing several young males but refused to address the charges. The Pope shut down the investigation of him. Bishop Krenn dismissed homosexual activity and child pornography in his (ultraconservative) seminary as no problem. If you think the outraged reactions of the laity are because of sinful disobedience, I’m not sure you and I have much left to talk about. I don’t share your idolatrous view of authority, so I do not defend the hierarchy at all costs, no matter how incompetent and immoral their actions.


  12. I am confused. Child pornography should be condemned by all, inside and outside the Church. But I am taken with your comment before that: are the laity in Austria complaining about homosexual activity by seminarians? If so, the hierarchy should indeed by answerable if they refused to look into this and the laity are certainly in line with Church teaching.
    It just seems odd to me if, at the same time, the same people demand women “priests”, which is not in line with Church teaching. Perhaps the laity in Austria do not split neatly into conservative and liberal as here in the US?
    It is settled that the Church can never satisfy their demand on women “priests” (as I have said before, everyone reading this blog will lead, I hope, long and happy lives and at the end of them all, it is simply a fact that we will be no closer to women “priests” than we are now or were in 1500AD or 1000AD or 500AD). It should, of course, even without their demand, clean up any filth in the seminaries.

    1. It just seems odd to me if, at the same time, the same people demand women “priests”, which is not in line with Church teaching. Perhaps the laity in Austria do not split neatly into conservative and liberal as here in the US?

      Which leads me to conclude that at least a large part of the problem is with the people and not with the Church. The poll simply shows that a large number of once-Catholics have left their faith behind. This is not really news, even here in the US>

      1. Jeffrey,
        Your comment is inappropriate on this blog. Let me explain why. You say that these people were “once Catholics who have left their faith behind.” You can believe what you want, but you can’t proclaim on this blog that other people aren’t Catholic. For one thing, they’re all priests in good standing and not a one of them has been disciplined by his Bishop or excommunicated by the Pope. We want a rich variety of viewpoints here, so we have to presume good faith and good will in others.
        As I wrote in a previous comment, the church has changed her position on a number of issues (enjoying the sexual act within marriage, accepting freedom of the press and freedom of worship, etc.). Perhaps the Church will never change on women’s ordination; still, those who advocate women’s ordination MAY be right and there is a chance that they are contributing to discernment which leads to a change. I’m not advocating women’s ordination here, nor do I need a defense of the Church’s position on it from you. What is not acceptable on this blog is for you to say that people who disagree with the magisterium have left the faith.
        A final comment. I think so-called “conservatives” do themselves no favors by overshooting in their judgmentalism. It makes their viewpoint less appetizing to others. I know it does this for me.

  13. I don’t see any more reverence in Timothy’s regard for Roman authority than what we see in Vatican II’s Lumen gentium…esp. #25.
    I can think of other bishops besides Groer who failed morally and who couldn’t have passed a rigorous background check. Some of them date from the Jadot days here in the US while others can be seen in history. I can think of two Archbishops in the US appointed by Jadot who left amid some disquiet having nothing to do with John Paul II. Paul VI saw the open rebellion of the Canadian hierarchy in their 1968 Winnipeg Statement. The Dutch hierarchy is also noted for not supporting Paul VI in 1968 with problems clearly predating JP II’s reign. The Austrian bishops’ conference also never sustained Paul VI’s HV the way the US bishops did. In fact, the Austrian bishops had to recall their Maria-Troster Statement of 1968 in 1988. Sadly, however, Bishop Helmut Krätzl, aux. bishop of Vienna called for a change in the Church’s teaching on artificial contraception in 2007. It must be difficult being a catechist in Austria.

    1. Dear Robert, thanks for your comments. There is moral failing on all sides, and in every person, starting with me. That’s not my point. My point concerns Church structures and policies which enable rather than prevent such moral failure. The problem is that JP2 appointed someone on a whim, ignoring the file given to him by the curia and asking absolutely no one about his bright idea. Our system allows a Pope to act arbitrarily, and there is no check on the Pope except, perhaps, moral exhortation that he not do this. But he’s free to if he wants. That’s the problem. I’m not aware of Paul VI having done that in appointing any of the bishops you refer to – do you have other information on this? Something went wrong in Paul VI’s appointments, despite his following established procedures. But something went wrong in JP2’s appointments which could easily have been prevented, if we only had structures of accountability in our Church which applied to everyone including the Pope.

    2. Robert, thank you for drawing out in a concrete way what I left implicit in my comments. I was speaking in general and tried to limit myself to what I think is a breakdown in obedience on one hand and charity on the other in the Church in Austria overall. There are plenty of mea culpas to go around, whether in Vienna or in Rome. We are all of us to much with ourselves, and our culture encourages us to set up the idol Ego in place of God, whose yoke is easy and burden light.

      I repudiate and condemn scourges such as paedophilia and the abuse of the faithful in any way. Anyone who is knowledgeable and complicit in such things is also guilty in the sin and crime. However, in my comments I was certainly not trying to whitewash or defend clerics who are a clear scandal to the Church and a present danger to the faithful. I was merely trying to recapitulate and evoke some of the fundamentals (the obedience of the faithful and bishops to the authority of the Church and Peter) of our unity as Catholics and the economy of the Church.

      In my opinion the best way to address and reform structures that contribute to or enable abuse is to ally with the Pope. Once we recognize our unity in Christ through Peter, and cooperate in charity, the path will be much eased to living out our baptismal promises, the Gospels, and sanctifying one another. And today, the Feast of Peter and Paul, is a great moment to pray for such a development!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *