It would seem unbelievable that in a world that reacts to news in a matter of hours, the heretical call to disobedience from around 250 Austrian priests is still online.
Furthermore, no news has reached the internet of any serious disciplinary proceeding against the initiators of this uprising. We all know how fast a priest can be suspended pending investigation, and the news made public so that what these priests say or have said is not confused with priestly ministry. This doesn’t seem to apply to heretical priests calling to disobedience, at least not if Archbishop Cardinal Schoenborn is in charge.
This uprising has in the meantime more than 250 priests as followers, but the internet site has not been updated so we don’t know how many they have become in the meantime. The only reaction of Cardinal Schoenborn has been some obligatory meowing centred on the need of obedience, without a word of clear condemnation of the delirious theological position of the rebels.
As I write, all the priests calling to open disobedience, and whose names can be read under “Mitglieder” on the internet page, so openly shameless and sure of impunity are they, continue to be in good standing and continue to spread their heretical ideas and to confuse the faithful.
This call to disobedience is demolishing the Church in German-Speaking Countries with every day that it is allowed to stay online. It gives the Austrian Catholics the impression that rebellion be legitimate; it makes it more probable that such rebellion may spread to other German-speaking countries; it makes a mockery of the office of the priest and of his promise of obedience.
Every day that such a scandal is allowed to survive, Cardinal Schoenborn makes himself beautiful with the vast mass of Austrian “rebels lite”; those who don’t know much about Catholic doctrine, but pay the “church tax” the Cardinal is clearly after and are now, polluted by the heresies their own priest have encouraged, refusing to pay en masse; at the same time, the Cardinal gives these “catholic lite” the impression that they do have a leverage against Rome. Fools all of them, but the biggest fool is the Cardinal, who doesn’t do anything sensible (obligatory meowing not being anything sensible) to stop this and allows his desire for popularity and Kirchensteuer-money to come before sound Catholicism, the prestige of the Church and the soul of his sheep.
The initiative has started on the 19th June. If the Cardinal had been awake – and thinking about Catholicism rather than about his Kirchensteuer proceeds – the initiative would have been stopped in a matter of hours, the responsible suspended pending investigation, and an example given to everyone. This is what a shepherd does who doesn’t want heresy to spread among his sheep. Cardinal Schonborn does, of course, the exact contrary and we now have more than 250 priests in the uprising.
I can’t imagine any better way to help them to spread the heresy than the sort of fake ex officio rebuke, but in practice complete inaction, that Cardinal Schoenborn is staging.
This scandal must be stopped; the initiators and all those who have given their support suspended, investigated and asked to offer a complete retractation or – better, say I – be defrocked. Most of all, the priests responsible must be ordered to take the site down, now.
From tt.com, excerpts from a kind of “open letter” addressed from Cardinal Schoenborn to the Austrian rebels, headed by the heretical Helmut Schueller. I couldn’t find (yet) the letter online, so I’ll have to rely on the article.
Tt.com says that this is the first time that Cardinal Schoenborn takes a position about the “Priester-Initiative”. The open invitation to revolt is dated 19th June. I wouldn’t call this a prompt reaction, but at least he has acted.
The letter says that Cardinal Schoenborn was “appalled” or “devastated” (“erschuettert”) about the initiative; that it filled him with “anger and sorrow” (“Zorn und Trauer”), and that with this revolt “a new level” (of disobedience) has been reached. This means that the Cardinal admits that disobedience was, under his watch, happily going on; only not at this level.
Here it starts to get a bit strange:
“„Wie würden in unserem Land die Familien aussehen, wenn Ungehorsam zur Tugend erhoben würde?“
“How would families in our country look like, if disobedience were to be elevated to the rank of a virtue?”.
This strikes me as very odd, because there is no reference whatsoever to the position of the heretics being…. heretical. He doesn’t say “you are totally wrong in the matter”. He says “you are wrong in inciting to disobedience”.
It goes on.
Jeder müsse für sich entscheiden, ob er „den Weg mit dem Papst, dem Bischof und der Weltkirche“ gehen wolle oder nicht. Wer jedoch „das Prinzip des Gehorsams aufgibt, löst die Einheit auf“, so Schoenborn.
Everyone must decide, whether he goes “the way of the Pope, the Bishops and the Church” or not. Still, he who “gives away the principle of obedience, destroys the unity”, Schoenborn said.
Once again: no word about the theology. That male priesthood is matter of Ordinary and universal Magisterium which must not be put into question is simply ignored. This is a call to obedience, not to theological soundness. That so many priests seem to think that a woman can be priest is not recognised as a problem, at all; that they by so doing go against the union within the Church, is.
Als Priester habe man bei der Weihe „aus freien Stücken, von niemandem dazu gezwungen, dem Bischof ‚Ehrfurcht und Gehorsam‘ in die Hand versprochen“, erinnerte Schönborn weiter, um schließlich die Priester der Erzdiözese wie auch die Unterzeichner des Aufrufs zum Ungehorsam zu fragen: „Steht ihr dazu?“
As a priest, one has on occasion of his ordination “voluntarily, forced by no one, promised to the bishop ‘reverence and obedience’ “, remembered Schoenborn, in the end openly asking his own priests and the underwriters of the appeal: ‘Do you stand by your promise?’ “
This is eerie. He asks all of his priests, and the heretical priests with them, whether they stand by their promise. Again, there is no threat, no reference to their theological confusion. He never says that they are wrong in the matter. On the contrary, the point is always the same: obedience. You have promised obedience, are you still obedient? If you ask me, this isn’t the most intelligent question to pose to people who have openly called to disobedience.
It goes on, and here it gets really disquieting:
“Er selbst habe dem Papst ebenfalls Gehorsam versprochen – und er wolle „dazu stehen, auch wenn es Momente gegeben hat, wo das nicht leicht war“.
“He himself has in turn promised obedience to the Pope – and he wants ‘to stand by it, even if there have been moments, when it wasn’t easy’ “.
What we learn from this is that he was tempted to rebel to the Pope ( we are talking doctrinal matters here, remember! You don’t break any unity if you disagree with the Pope on some opinion of his), but he has decided not to do so, because of his promise of obedience. Here, the heroic self-portrait of a closeted heretical Cardinal is painted; one that at times would have so much liked to break the unity with the bishops and the church; but then decided not to, because of his promise of obedience. His every word seems to say to the rebels “I feel with you, bro”.
Even at this point, there is no word – at least in the article – about the matter in itself, that is: that these people are theologically wrong, big time, and in frontal rebellion to the Ordinary and universal Magisterium. It’s always, and exclusively, about obedience. You start to think that this Cardinal still has some huge problem with the Magisterium but hey, he is an obedient closet heretic.
It goes on:
Man müsse „nicht jeder kirchlichen Entscheidung“ eine „Herzenszustimmung“ erteilen, räumt Schönborn auch ein. Wenn der Papst jedoch – etwa in der Ämterfrage – klare Vorgaben mache, so stelle eine Aufforderung zum Ungehorsam letztlich „die kirchliche Gemeinschaft in Frage“
One doesn’t have to “agree with his own heart with every decision of the Church”, admits Schoenborn. But when the Pope – say: in the question of the offices – gives clear instructions, then an appeal to disobedience ‘puts the union of the church into question'”
This here is positively creepy. Among the requests of the rebels there are some which are clearly heretical and in obvious conflict with the Magisterium. The idea that a priest may feel authorised to disagree with those is appalling and gives all the measure of Schoenborn’s weakness or, worse, closet heresy. At the same time, it is the clearest explanation of how it could come to this in the first place: a Cardinal who thinks his own priests authorised to not accept Catholic doctrine in their heart can really not be surprised when they refuse to accept it openly.
Once again, please notice: not one word about the theological matter. Not one word saying that they are just plain wrong. His only, and constantly repeated, argument is that they should be good boys, swallow their disagreement and not revolt for the sake of the unity.
He even goes so far as to say that they must shut up merely because the Pope says so, and here the reference to Ordinatio Sacerdotalis is very clear. Once again, that male priesthood is matter of infallible Sacred Magisterium is not mentioned, at all. He fully ignores the theological question. This isn’t a father who says to his children “you are wrong”. This is a father who says to his children in an understanding tone “I know you’re right, but be good for your mother’s sake”.
The last pearl is the following one:
Schließlich bestätigte Schönborn in dem Brief, dass er in Kürze mit den Vertretern der Pfarrer-Initiative ein Gespräch führen wolle und darin auf verschiedene „Ungereimtheiten“ ihres Aufrufs hinweisen werde
In the end, Schoenborn confirmed in the letter that he wants to meet in the near future with the representatives of the “Priest Initiative”, and point out to them to some “inconsistencies” of their appeal
“Ungereimtheiten”. This means “inconsistencies”, “small contradictions”. That the rebels want to give away the Eucharist without priests – and make of this, let us not forget, a substitute for sunday mass obligation – is merely an “inconsistency”.
And so we are at the end of the article. From what it is possible to see from it, the entire question has been reduced to a question of obedience.
Theology doesn’t play any role; on the contrary, the man clearly feels with his priests; he doesn’t reproach their theological position with one word, not even on the most scandalous issues; he doesn’t threaten any consequence; he doesn’t suspend anyone, not even Father Schueller; he doesn’t even order to take the page down; he doesn’t do anything else than inviting them to be obedient, whilst at the same time giving them every reason to believe that he is not in disagreement with the way they think, merely with the way they act.
This is, be assured, the message that will go out among the Austrian faithful. That the priests are impulsive, but in the end they are right; that their superior can’t tell them they are wrong, so he tells them to be patient and well-behaved; that what is wrong is not what they think, but Rome’s position.
If I were in his shoes and were to be scheming on how to protect the uprising without incurring the ires of Rome but at the same time allowing it to grow and consolidate, I would do exactly as he did: make a formal appeal to obedience by at the same time never showing that I disagree with the theological argument; allow my priests to appear in front of the faithful as people who have their heart in the right place, but who are a bit impulsive in their desire to progress; downplay as “inconsistencies” those requests who are less hugely heretical than the call to women priests.
Well no, on second though, I think I’d be more prudent than that. I’d say a couple of words about the Magisterium, too. To just completely ignore the matter would seem to me too openly approving of their position.
I wonder how long the Church in Austria will have to cope with this man.
Pray for his immortal soul, and that the Church in Austria may soon have a new, worthy pastor.
This is a delicious piece of Italian cinema of the Seventies, an excerpt of the episode of a famous comedy (“The New Monsters”, the remake of the extremely fortunate “The Monsters”), called “Tantum Ergo”. This episode is the more savoury, because it shows how the times have changed and how this sketch is, today, read in a completely different way that it was at the time. The lead actor is the great, late Vittorio Gassman.
The facts: a Cardinal has a car breakdown in the middle of a “borgata”, one of those heavily working-class neighbourhoods in Rome. He finds a nearby parish church. This parish is a “modern” parish, led by a “modern” priest.
The priest is holding a meeting of the “collective” (oh, those years!) of the parish, regarding the use of certain public spaces now in danger of being taken away from them to build a supermarket. In the very church, in front of the Blessed Sacrament, unbelievable things happen: loud screaming, very strong profanities, almost a row. The modern priest clearly doesn’t give a straw, so obsessed with “social justice” he is.
The Cardinal enters and when the priest, “Don Paolo Arnoldi”, introduces himself (“what is your name, my son?” asks the cardinal in a suavely threatening tone; the delicious non-verbal communication can be understood without understanding the language!) the Cardinal tells him : “I have already heard of you, my friend Paolo”, and the message is clear enough. He then sits, and listens.
Slowly, the dynamic begins to change: the Cardinal observes the mess, the screaming mob, the priest also screaming and obsessed with “votations” and “democracy”, the most unruly elements calling for violence. Annamo e menamo, says the most colourful and worst of them; this is Roman dialect for “let’s go and let’s thrash (them)”.
The Cardinal then has the word. He targets the very colourful hothead; repeats his words; then slaps him heavily in the face, pointing out that his violence hasn’t really achieved anything, and has only increased his rancor… (this episode became an extremely fortunate one and it is fair to say that still today there’s probably no Italian who doesn’t know it… )
Now fully in control, he goes on the pulpit, and things soon become rather explicit. He openly blames the obsessive search for earthly justice; the justice “of a priest who doesn’t feel the duty of carrying the sacred habit with dignity”, and points out to the necessity to focus first on heavenly rewards.
The mob is slowly persuaded. They listen in reverent silence now, as the Cardinal points out that “a church is not a place for strife and rows”, then restores some Catholic sacredness and reverence by lighting the place and having the bells sing, and the organist play.
He is now triumphing, the mob kneels, they cross themselves, even the violent boor is in tears of redemption. “Make yourselves heard up to St. Peter!”, says the Cardinal. He fully ignores the now openly angry “worker priest”, blesses the mob and goes away, the car being repaired in the meantime. The watcher clearly understands that this is a man of action, and there will be consequences for the priest.
Apart from the delightful sketch of the Italy of the Seventies, an element must be noted: in the intentions of the director, the Cardinal is the villain, and the priest the hero. This is clear from several ironic remarks (the young priest of dubious virility but unquestioning loyalty; the fake quotation from the Gospel; the in those times negatively charged authority of the Cardinal; his use of simple effect to impress the mob; his rhetoric, “manipulative” skills). In the director’s intentions the priest is the future, and the Cardinal the past still in power but destined to fade; the priest wants social justice, the Cardinal the preservation of the status quo, and so on.
The times have changed. As one Italian commenter points out,
the “working priest” has [….] in the end failed both in his aim of being a priest and in the one of being a paladin of the poor.
We see this short piece today and we understand that the “villain” was absolutely right, and the “hero” a complete ass, and a sacrilegious one to boot.
How the times have changed!