Austria’s Cardinal Schönborn seeks dialogue with Catholic rebels

November 13, 2011

(Cardinal Christoph Schönborn in Vienna September 24, 2010. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger)

The leader of Austria’s Roman Catholic Church has faced down calls for radical change from priests and lay people, saying dialogue was useful but calls for disobedience should be challenged.  “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.

Catholic rebels in Austria have been making increasingly strident calls for “disobedience” and changes in the Church, after record numbers of Austrians deserted it last year, many of them in response to allegations of sexual abuse by priests.

Some lay people say they will start celebrating Mass when a priest is unavailable, and hundreds of disgruntled priests have publicly challenged Church teaching on celibacy, ordination of women, and giving communion to Protestants and remarried Catholics.

Schönborn, a former student and close associate of Pope Benedict, told a news conference he did not look kindly on such open revolt. To speak of celebrating the Eucharist without having a priest conduct the sacrament “is an open break with a central truth of our Catholic faith” that goes far beyond merely questioning Church structures, he said. Addressing the priests’ call, he said: “Disobedience is a fighting word that cannot go unchallenged.”

The Church has quietly been working for years on how to handle remarried Catholic divorcees, he added, while taking a hard line on defending priestly celibacy. “This question is not going to be decided in Austria and everyone involved has to live with this response,” he said.

The cardinal has already made clear he would not lead Austrian Catholicism into breaking away from the Vatican by letting clergy flout Church rules.

Reformist Austrian Catholics have for decades challenged the conservative policies of Benedict and his predecessor John Paul, creating protest movements and advocating changes the Vatican refuses to make. A record 87,000 Austrians left the Church in 2010.


Follow RTRFaithWorld via Twitter Follow all posts on Twitter @ RTRFaithWorld

rss button Follow all posts via RSS


We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see

Let’s not be fooled by Schönborn’s resistence. In continuing to support the liberalism of Vatican II, he continues to open the door to all these abuses. He doesn’t want to, but the false teaching of ecumenism and of religious freedom allow the notions of ‘many roads to heaven,’ and thus to all these aberrations. The liberal hierarchy wants to put the brakes on, and stop at its own rupture with tradition, but just as things developed in protestantism, other disobedience follows. The church of England didn’t want the Puritans, but the Puritans were a development from the first break. So is this one. It happened in every country that broke with the Church, and eventually they all have landed in the logical development of secularism and the end of religious sentiment altogether. The only ‘cure’ is to repudiate all the false doctrine and the ‘new mass’ and return to tradition.

Posted by JanetBaker | Report as abusive

The New Mass is so invalid that anyone can celebrate it.

Posted by ruizsainz | Report as abusive