• RSS Queering the Church

    • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.
  • RSS Spirit of a Liberal

    • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.
  • RSS There Will be Bread

    • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.
  • RSS The Wild Reed

    • "I Came Alive with Hope" May 5, 2016
      Celebrating 10 Years of The Wild ReedI can think of no better way to mark the tenth anniversary of The Wild Reed than by sharing the following message I received from a young man in Ghana. With his permission I reprint (with added links) his January 12, 2015 message, accompanied by photos he subsequently e-mailed me.Hello kind soul,My name is Atsu Gadri, fro […]
      noreply@blogger.com (Michael J. Bayly)
    • Called to the Field of Compassion May 4, 2016
      . . . to be both prophet and mystic.I can't recall where I found the image above, but it's one that I really love. It shows a dervish standing in a flowering field. He looks very intentional, don't you think? I see him as preparing to dance a prayer of praise and surrender to the Divine Presence. Part if this image's appeal is to do with […]
      noreply@blogger.com (Michael J. Bayly)
  • RSS Bilgrimage

  • RSS Enlightened Catholicism

  • RSS Far From Rome

    • the way ahead March 23, 2013
      My current blog is called the way ahead.
      noreply@blogger.com (PrickliestPear)
  • RSS The Gay Mystic

    • Pentecost in Prague May 15, 2016
      Attended Pentecost services today at the beautiful Catholic Church of St. Thomas in Mala Strana (something I rarely do). Surprised to see that the papal nuncio, Bishop Giuseppe Leanza was presiding - over a confirmation ceremony of 4 young teens, two boys and two girls, and one adult male. Bishop Leanza has just recently been elevated to the red hat, Cardina […]
      noreply@blogger.com (Richard Demma)
    • RISEN: Film Review May 9, 2016
      Yet again - I've been neglecting this blog, despite my best intentions. I had hoped to comment on the Easter visit to Catholic Slovakia and the Marian shrine of Litmanova. A deeply moving event for me - going from secular, cynical Czechia (Czech Republic's new nickname) to staunchly, vibrantly Catholic Slovakia (with its dark history of collusion w […]
      noreply@blogger.com (Richard Demma)
  • RSS The Jesus Manifesto

    • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.
  • RSS John McNeill: Spiritual Transformations

  • RSS Perspective

    • Happy birthday, Dylan May 25, 2016
      It's Bob Dylan's birthday ... Forever Young: Rock Poet Bob Dylan Turns 75.I must admit that I never liked his voice, but here are three of his songs performed by others that I do especially like ....- Joan Baez does Love Is Just A Four-Letter Word ...- Roger McGuinn did Ballad of Easy Rider but it was at least partly written by Dylan ...- Dylan […]
      noreply@blogger.com (crystal)

Austrian Bishops Respond to Catholic “Rebellion”: Continuing Dialogue Promised

Cardinal Christoph Schonborn of Vienna has responded to the Austrian rebels with a promise of dialogue, not discipline: jaw-jaw before war-war: but has firmly rejected calls to “disobedience”.

Last week the Austrian branch of “We are Church” issued a statement of support for the Austrian priests’ earlier “call to disobedience, and at the same time urged laypeople to start making up for clergy shortages by consecrating and distributing Holy Communion, as well as preaching and presiding at Mass.

This call immediately preceded a four-day meeting  of the Austrian bishops, at which the priests’ rebellion was already due to be discussed. The bishops have now concluded their meeting, and have released a statement in response, which is well worth reading and considering carefully.

Part of the response is entirely predictable – a rejection of the principle of disobedience, and for lay people to celebrate the Mass themselves.

The bishops said that some demands connected to “this call for disobedience at the initiative of priests and laity are simply unsustainable” and breach “the central truth of our Catholic faith.”

USCatholic.org

I’m not sure that this is correct – I would have thought that the “central truth” of our Catholic faith was to follow the example of one Jesus Christ – who was notably wary of slavish adherence to religious rules and religious leaders.  Just consider, for instance, the words from the Gospel reading two weeks ago, and in particular its closing lines:

You have but one teacher, and you are all brothers. 

Call no one on earth your father;
you have but one Father in heaven.
Do not be called ‘Master’;
you have but one master, the Christ. 
The greatest among you must be your servant.
Whoever exalts himself will be humbled;
but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”

No, the “central truth” that is being breached here is not that of the Catholic faith, but of clerical (and especially episcopal) power, that has been gradually claimed for themselves in a two millennium long power grab. What the call for lay celebration of the Eucharist does, is to return to the practice of the earliest church, when communities chose from amongst themselves people to lead their liturgies. These served as part-time ministers, not full-time professionals – and bishops did not even exist.

The issue of “disobedience” specifically is another matter – but it cuts both ways. It is true that priests take vows of obedience to the bishops – but the bishops in turn are supposed to be responsive to the needs of the Church. The overwhelming evidence from research the world over, is that (collectively) they are not.

But inside the statement, there is also encouragement. It is clear that the Austrian bishops have recognized the seriousness of the crisis, and while they reject the rebels’ outright defiance, they have some sympathy with their fundamental aims. They have attempted to show a conciliatory tone, and to demonstrate some common ground. They too, are anxious for reform and renewal. They also emphasise a flexible understanding of “obedience” itself, which does not have to be blind and slavish:

“As bishops, we are all naturally concerned about our church’s real and serious problems –Austrian dioceses are facing up to the situation and taking opportunities to innovate,” said a statement issued at the end of the Nov. 7-10 meeting.

In their statement, the bishops said the duty of obedience had its source “in the Bible and living tradition of the church” and did not mean “being blind or slavish.” They said debates were under way in each diocese and they were confident they would “find answers to the questions asked today.”

USCatholic.org

That’s in the formal, prepared statement, as quoted by US Catholic Magazine. Behind the scenes, we can be sure that there will be much more, continuing discussion (not for public dissemination). This was explicitly promised by Cardinal Schonborn, in a press conference following their meeting.

“We are in talks and will remain in talks because I and the bishops are still convinced that a lot can and must be cleared up by dialogue,” Vienna Cardinal Christoph Schönborn said on Friday after a four-day meeting of bishops.

Equally interesting, as always in discussions of ecclesiastical politics, is what is not said: there is absolutely no mention of disciplinary sanctions against the rebels, imposed or threatened.

The bishops find themselves in an impossible situation. It is clear that they have substantial sympathy with the aims of the Austrian reform movement, but they are unable to comply with the demands with themselves falling into direct conflict with their own superiors in Rome. As the view from the Vatican, and that from ordinary Catholic households, continues to drift further and further apart, the challenge to Austrian bishops in attempting to straddle the divide will be repeated, in many other countries.

 Related articles

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 154 other followers

%d bloggers like this: