To Lead or To Follow?
The Pastor’s Corner; Weekly Words from an SSPX Priest
3rd Sunday of July
Sixth Sunday after
Summary of events
About a year after Rome requested action from him, Cardinal Christoph Schonborn of Vienna told a group of priests that they do not have to renounce their membership in a dissident organization opposed to Catholic teaching.
The facts may be known to our readers since we mentioned the rebellion of about 300 Austrian priests. Last year, they issued “A Call to Disobedience,” demanding “reform” of Catholic teaching and practice to allow married and female priests and the reception of Holy Communion by non-Catholics and divorced and remarried Catholics. In the past year it has remained essentially unchallenged by Vienna’s Catholic authorities and has gained support from groups of priests in Germany, Ireland, Belgium, and the United States.
The Pope, being upset at the inactivity of the local authorities, has demanded prompt action. The Viennese Cardinal, referring to the manifesto, explained to the media that he would be requesting a “clarification, a public statement and I think we need to address this matter soon.” Church officials said that the term “disobedience” cannot stand: “In an average company, a department head can’t say he doesn’t care what the CEO says.”
In response, Fr. Peter Meidinger, who agreed to step down from his deanery, explained that: “For me what is important is the Priests’ Initiative and not the term ‘disobedience’. The term civil disobedience is used when the leaders (sic) are simply not prepared to listen to people.”
While traditional Catholics have often received the harshest treatment from Roman authorities for over 40 years, things still look relatively comfortable for 10% of the Austrian clergy who are in open rebellion against Church teaching and authority.
In all the dealings of Cardinal Schonborn with the rebels, where is the question about the Faith or the betrayal thereof? Where is the shepherd’s concern for the flock? Are these men faithful to their promise and their vows made at their ordination to profess the Catholic Faith until death?
Rome complains, sounds the alarm, and yet things seem to have slumbered into a demagogical game to please the media and the “Boss” upstairs. The rebels remain free to do as they please and spread the revolt abroad with total impunity. Further, time is on their side as they make headways across the borders. Democracy believes in numbers. A large percentage have already sown the seeds of discord in Austria; the more, the merrier, and perhaps the “truer” the message!
What we are witnessing here is a microcosm of the state of the Catholic Church at large. The loss of central control from Rome, the demise of local authority to the profit of freelancers and out-laws, the glorification of numbers, and most of all, the loss of Catholic integrity in matters of faith and morals.