The Catholic Church is stuck in the past and has handled the recent sexual abuse scandal poorly, according to a rare survey of 500 priests in Austria, which also showed a majority in favour of allowing them to marry and for women to become priests.
Vienna’s Cardinal Christoph Schönborn was rebuked by the Vatican on Monday for accusing a top official of covering up sexual abuse, but it appears he is not the only Austrian to question how Rome has handled the issue.
Only 21 percent of Austrian priests think that the Vatican has done a good job in terms of dealing with the problem, the survey by researcher GFK Austria showed. Around half said they were at odds with many aspects of the Catholic leadership, and 48 percent agreed with a statement that the church leadership was “helpless” and “lacking vision.” (Photo: Pope Benedict at St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna on 9 Sept 2007/Miro Kuzmanovic)
The sexual abuse crisis has hit the United States and several European countries, including the pope’s native Germany. Five bishops in Europe have resigned — one has admitted sexual abuse, another is under investigation and three have stepped down over their handling of abuse cases.
It has also sparked a debate about celibacy of priests, a practice which dates back to the 12th century and which the pope has said must continue, warning that the Church must not succumb to “passing cultural fashions.”