These news courtesy of Vatican Insider:
Peter Paul Kaspar, chaplain of the Academy and the artists of Linz and one of the leaders of the “Pfarrer Initiative” has written an open letter to the Cardinal of Vienna Cristoph Schönborn, referring to the case of the young gay man who was elected to the pastoral council of Stützenhofen. He presented this case as an example of “disobedience”, or rather of obedience to his own conscience rather than to “Roman law”.Read the full report here.
Readers will recall that during the Chrism mass on Holy Thursday morning, Benedict XVI unexpectedly spoke about the “Appeal to Disobedience” signed by 400 Austrian parish priests. Those who signed the appeal are asking for drastic reforms, including the abolition of priestly celibacy and the ordination of women. In response to this, the Pope said that disobedience is not the right path towards the reformation of the Church, because it risks transforming it “according to our wishes and ideas.”
The Pope’s words were welcomed in a positive manner by the Archbishop of Vienna, Cardinal Cristoph Schönborn, but were also appreciated by the leader of the “Pfarrer Initiative”. Although the latter he said did not agree with the Pope’s decision to declare the ordination of women priests impossible, he saw the reference to it in the homily as a move towards dialogue.
Now, Fr. Kaspar has sent an open letter to Schönborn, after the cardinal criticised dissident priests for launching an “Appeal of Disobedience” during Pentecost 2011. “The fact that you have asked us to reconsider the title of the appeal, instead of discussing its content, says a lot about your understanding of authority: you speak of the obedience we owe God, to his teaching and to our conscience rather than looking at yourself and your own role.”
Commentary. A large segment of the Austrian Catholic Church is in a state of de facto schism and, if the Holy Father's concern reaches its logical conclusion, soon the schism will be de iure. The situation is delicate, because the Gospel directs the Church's shepherds to bring back the lost sheep, but these particular sheep are resisting, believing themselves fully qualified to be pastors themselves. The situation is eerily similar to that described by George Orwell in Animal Farm, where the farm animals took up the farm and banished the farmer, whereas in Austria the sheep want to become shepherds.
Personally, I dislike, disapprove, and censure the open defiance and disobedience rampant in the Church in Austria. I hope they repent and change their ways soon, or risk being cut from the life-giving Vine.