Cardinal Christoph Schönborn
Cardinal Christoph Schonborn of Vienna wants to get the priests who are calling for reforms in church practice to work with him to bring new life to Viennese parishes, his spokesman said, according to the Catholic News Service.
"The situation is not as dramatic as the Austrian media make it seem," said Michael Pruller, archdiocesan spokesman.
"There has been no discussion of sanctions, no ultimatum, no talk of punishment," the spokesman told Catholic News Service in a telephone interview yesterday.
The leaders of the "Initiative of Parish Priests" launched a "Call to Disobedience" in late June, urging priests to join them in saying a public prayer at every Mass for church reform; giving Communion to everyone who approaches the altar in good faith, including divorced Catholics who have remarried without an annulment; allowing women to preach at Mass; and supporting the ordination of women and married men.
Cardinal Schonborn met last month with the four Vienna archdiocesan priests who are on the presiding council of the initiative, and he plans to meet with them again in a few weeks, but no date has been set, Pruller said.
"We don't send spies to all the parishes to make sure all the rules are kept," he said, but he added that, if a priest is violating church law, the situation will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.
According to news reports, the initiative's membership has grown from about 300 priests to about 400, and polls taken among Austrian Catholics showed overwhelming support for the changes the priests support.
"The polls are in line with polls from previous years," Pruller said. "It is a reminder that we have to do more to explain" the church's teaching on ordination, the sacraments, marriage and church structure.
Austrian cardinal continues dialogue with priests calling for reforms (Catholic News Service)
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