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06. 04. 12. - 15:53

Preachers' Initiative head happy about Pope’s reaction

The head of the Austrian Preachers’ Initiative has reacted positively to the Pope’s criticism.

Pope Benedict XVI. said in his Maunday Thursday sermon held in Italian in the Vatican that disobedience was no solution. The Pope mentioned a "group of priests from a country in Europe" without directly referring to Helmut Schüller or his movement. He claimed that obedience was the only way to manage the challenges of the Church in the world of today. Pope Benedict XVI. took a clear stand against the Preachers’ Initiative’s appeal to stop women from becoming Catholic priests. He said that his predecessor John Paul II. determined that such a reform was unthinkable.

Schüller described the Pope’s criticism as "relatively cautious". The Probstdorf parish priest admitted in a television interview yesterday evening (Thurs) that he was surprised about the leader of the Catholic Church to speak about the points his movement had raised. The former Caritas Austria head stressed he appreciated the Pope’s estimation regarding his initiative’s intention. Benedict XVI said it seemed to him that the group of preachers got active to change the Church for the better. He acknowledged the movement’s concerns about the Church’s future.

Schüller dismissed the Pope’s argumentation regarding the role of women in the Roman Catholic Church. The Austrian priest said that the Church’s doctrine constantly evolved. He suggested that the verdict of John Paul II should not be considered as final. Schüller emphasised that other clerical personalities used much harsher terms in criticising his initiative than the Pope. He pointed out that many conservative opinion leaders called on the Austrian Conference of Bishops and the Vatican to expel him and his fellow campaigners for a modernisation of the Austrian Catholic denomination.

Viennese Archbishop Christoph Cardinal Schönborn, the highest representative of the Austrian Roman Catholic Church, said he considered the Pope’s statements as "encouraging for the Church in Austria". Schönborn claimed the Pope had proven how well informed he was about the situation in the country.

Schönborn previously criticised Schüller for choosing the term "disobedience" to describe their critical attitude. The archbishop labelled the word as utterly inappropriate. Newspapers report that the most recent meeting between Schüller and Schönborn dates back several months. The archbishop seemed not to have understood his plans to gather with representatives of the Preachers’ Initiative in the foreseeable future to debate the domestic denominations’ agenda and the chances for a settlement.

There are 3,032 Catholic parishes in Austria’s nine provinces. Vienna has the most with 660, followed by Upper Austria (474) and Lower Austria. More people than ever since the end of the war left the Austrian Church in 2010 when 58,600 membership cancellations were registered. The figure declined by 32 per cent in 2011. The number of marriages decreased as well. Around 36,300 marriage ceremonies took place in Austria last year, around three per cent fewer than in 2010.

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  • Peter wrote on 06. 04. 2012 from Jerusalem

    Women priesthood The argument that Jesus was a man, therefore, all priests must be men is theologically false. Catholic theology teaches that Jesus was a divine person, the second person of the Trinity. His divine personhood embraced two natures, a human nature and a divine nature. In his human nature, Jesus was a man, in his divine nature, he is God. Jesus uttered the words "This is my body; this is my blood" through his human nature, but the change could only have taken place through the interposition of his divine nature inhering in his divine personhood. A priest exercising the function of confecting the Eucharist does not do so as a result of his human nature or human personhood, but by sharing through ordination in the divine power of Jesus. Divine power knows no distinction by reason of gender. As Aquinas would put it, sex is but an accident inhering in the substance of human personhood as an attribute human nature. To put it bluntly, all humans are created equal, not because they posses a human nature, but are equal because they are persons, who posses a human nature. The equality resides not in their human nature which accidentally may have one or the other gender, but in their personhood endowed with a human nature. The error is made by assigning the modifier human to person but assuming they are one substance, when in fact, the quality of humanness inheres in the substance of person, again as an attribute. The gospels, recording events from an earlier time, cannot ignore the prominence given to women as witnesses to Jesus' teaching and deeds. It is only in later apologetical writings that there is created a culture that justifies a male only leadership in the later faith communities. The personal satisfaction afforded by the proposition of a male only priesthood, is no evidence of its validity. Nor is the intensity of feeling or conviction with which this proposition is held. Augustine of Hippo, Doctor of the Church, a favorite source of quotes by Catholic apologists and divines was a sexual neurotic, who never succeeded in logically resolving the Manichean duality he internalized early in life. His protestations to the contrary are belied by his coarse statement on womankind, echoed down the centuries by like-minded celibate bachelors, who would feel the fires of Hell welling up around them should they ever see a real live vagina: "Love her as a wife, but hate her as a woman!" Augustine wrote. At the end of his life, Augustine did not know what he believed. He wrote five million words, and the many ideas he proposed were self-contradictory. He forsook the gospels, the oracles of the apologists and his own writings; and as he lay dying, he had the Psalms inscribed in large letters and hung on his cell walls, so that he could read and take comfort in them, while the Vandals lay waste his city, his See and much of what he had accomplished. When appealing to tradition, whether religious or secular, as a source for authority, extreme care and caution must be exercised. Tradition, by its very nature is not only the weakest, but is also the least reliable and at times, the most reprehensible source for authoritative statements. This is because it has been born with the placenta of bad science, misinformation, misinterpretation, prejudice, ignorance, and a whole host of human foibles and short comings known as the human condition. Christ may have said that He would be with his followers always, but we should not extrapolate from this a mandate that human clerical pronouncements made singly or in concert carry “ispo facto” a divine sanction. In this regard, an old German adage chiseled into the frieze of an engineering building in the city of Essen commands attention: “Say not this is the truth, but so it seems to me to be as now I see the things I think I see.” Theological speculators have wasted way too much ink and human resources trying to disprove what is patently evident in front of their noses. Uta Ranke-Heinemann writes: "The whole of church history adds up to one long arbitrary, narrow-minded masculine despotism over the female sex." Acts 10: 34 "Then Peter began to speak: 'I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism, but accepts people from every nation who fear him and do what is right.'"


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