20 September 2012 13:53
AUSTRIA: CARD. SCHÖNBORN PRESENTS VIENNA’S PARISH REFORM
The archdiocese of Vienna will undergo a thorough structural and pastoral reform. It was announced yesterday by card. Christoph Schönborn, archbishop of the capital and president of the Austrian Bishops Conference. Over the next decade, the 660 existing parishes will be reduced and conflated into broader organisations but consisting of individual “branches”, so they will be in a better position to conduct their pastoral and missionary work. “Lots of local communities run by lay people compose, all together, a new parish, which will be jointly run by priests and lay people, reporting to a parish priest”, the cardinal explained. Card. Schönborn clearly insisted that the reform will not repeal parishes: “The new parishes will be able to develop larger, livelier communities”, because “the Church must become missionary again and be close to people in the places where they live”. The cardinal admitted that the reform will involve a “dramatic change of perspective”, since “we will have to take our distance from the idea that the Church exists only where there is a priest”: but “in doing so we will give back prominence to the joint priesthood” of “all baptised and confirmed people”, as “a cohabitation of priests and lay people based on their shared Christian call”.