Church of England General Synod backs women bishops

The Church of England has voted to allow women to become bishops for first time in its history.


York Synod



Its ruling General Synod gave approval to legislation introducing the change by the required two-thirds majority.

A previous vote in 2012 was backed by the Houses of Bishops and Clergy but blocked by traditionalist lay members.

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said he was “delighted” but some opponents said they were unconvinced by the concessions offered to them.

The crucial vote in the House of Laity went 152 in favour, 45 against, and there were five abstentions. In November 2012 the change was derailed by just six votes cast by the lay members.

In the house of Bishops, 37 were in favour, two against, and there was one abstention. The House of Clergy voted 162 in favour, 25 against and there were four abstentions.



Analysis By Robert Pigott, religious affairs correspondent, BBC News

It is hard to exaggerate the significance of today’s decision at the York Synod.

It breaks a hitherto unbroken tradition of exclusively male bishops inherited from the first Christians almost 2,000 years ago.

Some Anglicans see it as a “cosmic shift” – arguing that the Church’s theology has been changed by its acceptance that men and women are equally eligible to lead and teach Christianity.

With the decision, the Church is acknowledging the importance secular society places on equality, signalling that it wants to end its isolation from the lives of the people it serves.

The legislation leaves traditionalists relying largely on the goodwill and generosity of future women bishops, a source of anxiety for many, but heralded by some as a sign of a new culture of trust and co-operation in the Church.

With the even more divisive issue of sexuality on the horizon, the Church will need that culture as never before.


Before he announced the vote, the Archbishop of York John Sentamu, asked for the result to be met “with restraint and sensitivity”. But there was a flurry of cheers when it was announced.

The result overturned centuries of tradition in a Church that has been deeply divided over the issue.

It comes more than 20 years after women were first allowed to become priests. More than one-in-five of priests in the church are now female.

The motion will now go before Parliament’s ecclesiastical committee, which examines measures from the Synod. The Synod would then meet again on 17 November to formally declare that women can be bishops.

‘Big moment’The first woman bishop could potentially be appointed by the end of the year.

The Dean of Salisbury, the Very Reverend June Osborne: “It’s one more barrier down”

The vote followed after almost five hours of debate at the University of York.

The Dean of Salisbury, the Very Reverend June Osborne, said it was a “historic day”.

She told the BBC: “I don’t think you can overstate the fact that the Church of England allowing women to take up the role of bishop is going to change the Church.

“I think it’s going to change our society as well because it’s one more step in accepting that women are really and truly equal in spiritual authority, as well as in leadership in society.”

The Reverend Lindsay Southern, from the parish of Catterick with Tunstall, North Yorkshire, said “it’s been a really long journey but we were so pleased with the graciousness of the Synod debate”.

But Lorna Ashworth, a lay member of the Synod who voted against women becoming bishops, suggested it was “not going to be a smooth road ahead”.

She said she had no plans to “run away” from the Church but predicted there could be “difficulties” in a number of areas, such as those involving new priests opposed to the changes.

Another lay member, Susie Leafe, director of the conservative evangelical group Reform, said she was “very disappointed” by the vote.

“There is still at least a quarter of the Church for whom this package does not provide for their theological convictions,” she said.

The motion had the backing of the Archbishop of Canterbury and Prime Minister David Cameron.

Speaking in the debate, Archbishop Welby said Church of England bishops were committed to meeting their needs should the legislation be passed.

It contained concessions for those parishes that continue to object to the appointment of a women bishop – giving them the right to ask for a male alternative and to take disputes to an independent arbitrator.

In a statement issued by Lambeth Palace later, Archbishop Welby said: “Today marks the start of a great adventure of seeking mutual flourishing while still, in some cases disagreeing. The challenge for us will be for the church to model good disagreement and to continue to demonstrate love for those who disagree on theological grounds.”

The Archbishop of York said it was a “momentous day”.

He said: “Generations of women have served the Lord faithfully in the Church of England for centuries. It is a moment of joy today: the office of Bishop is open to them.”

Women celebrating outside the General Synod after the vote
There were celebrations outside the General Synod meeting at York University

Mr Cameron said it was a “great day for the Church and for equality”.

And writing on Twitter, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg praised Archbishop Welby’s “leadership” on securing the Yes vote, adding that it was a “big moment” for the Church of England.

Labour leader Ed Miliband said it was “wonderful news”.

But Prebendary David Houlding, a member of the Catholic Group on the General Synod, who voted against the legislation, expressed concerns at the potential impact the result could have on relations with the Catholic Church.

The Anglican Communion has the largest Christian denomination in Britain and a presence in more than 160 countries. Women bishops are already in office in a number of provinces including the US, Canada, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.

Complete Article HERE!

Melbourne Priest Greg Reynolds Defrocked And Excommunicated By The Vatican

File under:  Nice goin’ Francis!  You talk a good line, but when push comes to shove, you’re just like your predecessor.  SHAME!

By Anne Lu

Melbourne priest Greg Reynolds has not only been defrocked, but also excommunicated by the Catholic Church over his support for women priests and homosexuals. The order came directly from Vatican under the authority of Pope Francis, who just recently said that the Church focuses too much on gays and abortion.

Fr-Greg-ReynoldsMr Reynolds resigned as a parish priest in 2011, and has founded Inclusive Catholics in 2012. He said that although he was expecting to be laicised or defrocked for his views on ordination of women and homosexuality, he didn’t know he was to be excommunicated as well.

Excommunication is a form of medicinal penalty for members of the Catholic Church. Those who are excommunicated are barred from receiving the Eucharist and other Sacraments of the church.

“In times past excommunication was a huge thing, but today the hierarchy have lost such truth and respect,” he was quoted by The Age as saying.

“I’ve come to this position because I’ve followed my conscience on women’s ordination and gay marriage.

The order, written in Latin, came from Vatican through the authority of Pope Francis, and gave no reason for the former priest’s excommunication.

The letter was dated May 31, months before the Pope told his subjects to go easy on how they deal with gays, abortion, and contraception. Mr Reynolds continued to The Age that he wants the same thing as the Pope, adding that he believes that the Church is in need of reform and renewal.

“My motivation is trying to encourage reform and clear need for renewal in the church,” he said. “I still love the church and am committed to it, I’m just trying to bring about in my own little way to help highlight some of the failing and limitations.”

Melbourne Archbishop Denis Hart, who made headlines in May after appearing at a Victorian parliamentary inquiry into a child sex abuse case of another priest, apparently was not the one who requested the order, “but someone else unknown has gone over his head and contacted the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith,” Mr Reynolds said.

Archbishop Hart explained that Mr Reynolds was excommunicated because he continued to celebrate the Eucharist publicly after his priestly faculties were withdrawn. He was also preaching contrary to the teachings of the church.

As per its official Web site, Inclusive Catholics is an evolving movement/community in Melbourne that has recognises the hierarchical nature of the Catholic Church, but opposes its views on homosexuality and the ordination of women.

Mr Reynolds said that his being excommunicated would not make a different to his ministry.

He was offered $5000 as a payout for his 32 years of service in the church when he resigned, though he claimed he should have received $48,000 as the usual payout figure is about $1500 per year.

Complete Article HERE!

Evangelizing the institutional church: an interview with Helmut Schüller

By Jamie Manson

Much has been written about Austrian priest and reformer Helmut Schüller since he opened his 15-city U.S. tour, called “The Catholic Tipping Point,” in New York last week.
Schüller has been making news in the Roman Catholic church reform movement since 2006, when he and a group of fellow priests organized the Austrian Priests’ Initiative. In 2011, they made global headlines when they launched the “Call for Disobedience,” an appeal to the Vatican to address the shortage of priests and other predicaments facing the institutional church.

Father Helmut SchüllerThe Austrian Priests’ Initiative is concerned that the dwindling number of clergy is impacting the quality of pastoral care offered to baptized Catholics. Their “Call for Disobedience” suggests reforms such as the ordination of women and married men to address this unfolding crisis.

What makes Schüller an intriguing figure among reformers is that he is not simply an upstart parish priest. He spent years as a hierarchical insider, filling the very public roles of president of Caritas Austria and vicar general under Austrian Cardinal Christoph Schönborn. He has the rare insight of one who has served both in the hierarchy and in the parish. Rarer still, he has risked his position and privilege to be in full, outspoken solidarity with lay Catholic reformers.

Hours before Schüller’s July 16 debut in New York City, he and I sat down for an interview. Since many of the goals and ideas we discussed — such as the plan for an international meeting of priests, the new evangelization, his thoughts about Cardinal Sean O’Malley’s barring him from speaking, and the institutional church’s treatment of same-sex couples — have not made it into most of the media coverage of his speaking engagements, I am offering the text of our conversation, which has been edited for length and clarity.

There’s more to NCR than what you read online. Preview our Spirituality special section from the July 19 edition.
You are using your summer break to embark on a 15-city U.S. tour. What are you hoping to accomplish?

This tour is a way for reform organizations and reform-minded priests to connect with one another. Our goal is to build up an international network of reform movements. We want to make public our sorrows, questions, issues and desire for our church and make it clear that reform-minded Catholics can be found throughout Europe and the United States.

In the United States, there aren’t many priests who openly belong to church reform groups. How will you reach out to them?

As I travel city to city, I’ll be meeting with priests informally in closed sessions. I’m encouraging priests in the U.S. to stay together with the lay movements. The priests here are cautious because there is a lot of pressure from the American bishops. We must be advocates for the people of God, especially when their initiatives are sidelined. I’m not completely familiar with the situation in the U.S. I’m hoping that the next few weeks will enrich my point of view of the struggles here.

Are reform movements in Austria similarly sidelined?

In Austria, we are in somewhat of a different situation. It is clear to our bishops that reformers have a very large majority behind them. We estimate that, in Austria, 80 percent of the Catholic faithful and two-thirds of the priests agree with our platform. If there is pressure from the bishops, the media helped to make it public. The bishops can’t sideline us easily because of public pressure.

Is there a plan to gather reform-minded priests together for a meeting?

The Austrian Priests’ Initiative, which I helped to found, is calling 2013 “a year of internationalization.” In October of this year, we are planning an international meeting of priests from Austria, Germany, France, Ireland, Great Britain, the U.S. and other countries to try to enlarge our network and further discuss the “Call to Disobedience.”

What motivates the “Call to Disobedience”and all of this organization by priests in Austria?

The priests in Austria have realized that after we retire, our communities will be merged. The priest shortage is an urgent, desperate situation. The lay members of our communities are the ones who are building up the church. The more parishes merge, the more that priests are losing the chance to walk with members of their communities through their daily lives. This is about more than compassion. It is about companionship and solidarity with laypeople. Life is not going to get any easier, and we want to offer people the service of the church.

Our second motivation comes from the questions that have arisen out of our pastoral care of our parish communities. The church’s doctrines on divorced and remarried Catholics and same-sex couples have created a lot of pastoral problems. We need a new teaching model on sexual relations. Our teaching should concentrate on the quality of relationships, not the form. Rather than condemning remarried Catholics or same-sex couples, we should be asking: How are they living in relationship? Are they respecting one another’s dignity? We have to respect that people want to live together, that they feel responsible for one another, and that they care for one another.

How did you become the public face of the Austrian Priests’ Initiative?

I was president of Caritas Austria and also served as vicar general for Cardinal Christoph Schönborn. I am better known in Austria because of these public roles, so I became the speaker of group. It helps with the media because they tend to only respect individual persons rather than whole movements. But the initiative is not my movement. A group of priests founded it, and we work as a community. We have a board that meets regularly to reflect on our work, discuss problems and give assistance to parish priests who are alone.

Some have claimed that the Roman Catholic church in Europe is either dying or being replaced by secularism. How do you respond to those claims?

Because of the history of reformation in Europe, the church has had to seriously engage with modern society. This doesn’t mean the church is dying. It is simply struggling with the questions of modernity. Yes, some faith communities are small, but they are very active.

We are confronting the questions, not giving in to secularism. Some want a “contrast church” that is contrary to society. But that’s not the idea of Jesus or the Gospels. The church should go into society and share the daily lives of the people.

Early in his pontificate, Pope Benedict XVI spoke of re-Christianizing Europe. Pope Francis appears passionate about the new evangelization. Do you think Europe needs to be evangelized?

If evangelization means that the Gospel has to be brought from “us” to “them” and that “they” have to accept that we [the hierarchy] have the wisdom, then I think there will not be success with the new evangelization. The first evangelization that is needed is the evangelization of the church.

Pope Francis seems to have started it now: to be simple, for the poor, to separate himself from wealth. Evangelization has to meet the people, to understand their questions, to understand changes in society, to respect that this modern society has realized a lot of originally Christian ideas, and to find again the origin of our Gospel.

If the new evangelization should become a monologue, there will be a problem. Yes, we have to preach the Gospel, but we must bring it in the language of our time. That’s not watering down the Gospel, but coming into dialogue with world about the Gospel.

What do you think of the claim that we are living in a “culture of death”?

The Second Vatican Council had an optimistic view of modern society. There was no talk of a culture of death. The bishops respected the successes of human society. Of course, Gaudium et Spes recognized that modern society has its darkness, chaos and conflict, but it also recognized that modern society developed the ideas about a fair and just society, about the equal participation of human beings, and the right to individual conscience. This really is the spirit of the [United Nations’] Declaration of Human Rights, and the council respected it.

Mater et Magistra made the point that the church’s position is not to look down on society and say it is dying, but rather to look at what is good in society and discuss what is problematic. The church should be a good companion to modern society. Of course, this is risky. It’s more comfortable to be in a fortress. But the way of Jesus is to go with the people wherever they are.

You were banned from speaking on Catholic grounds in Boston by Cardinal Sean O’Malley. Does it concern you that Cardinal O’Malley was one of eight cardinals Pope Francis chose for his “kitchen cabinet” of advisers?

Well, it’s not really a sign of hope, but let it be. These are the old-fashioned reflexes of an old-fashioned system of thinking. Rather than forbidding these discussions, the hierarchy could instead ask to be represented in these conversations. To forbid someone to speak is a sad thing, but the real sadness is forbidding people to listen.

For me, being banned from speaking is not dramatic — I’ll just go to another church. But for a bishop to say, “You must not listen”? That’s just not possible in our time. We live in an open society. People can get information wherever they want. But this vision of a church where the baptized are “protected” against getting information that the bishop doesn’t want them to have? It is a ridiculous point of view, I think. Maybe what we are seeing are the last reflexes of a dying system. I feel that these ways are fading out. Let’s forget it and be hopeful.

What about the hierarchy’s claim that you are creating disunity in the church?

In these conversations, we are gathering people here who are engaged in this church. They have discussions with me and one another, and then they return to their communities and continue their work for the church. We are not driving them out of the church; we are inspiring them to continue to ask for reform. It is their church. If the bishop could see who the people are who are gathering here, they would not be afraid that we are dividing the church. I think the contrary is happening. I have had people say to me: “I would have left, but after hearing you, I feel there is some hope in fighting for the church and its reform, so I will stay.”

What are the first steps you would like to see the pope and the bishops take in bringing about reform?

One of the important steps would be to encourage the bishops to be with the people, not to be against them in the name of the Vatican. A key move will be to decentralize papal authority and to call the bishops to collegiality and shared responsibilities. The bishops’ synod must function like a real synod. It’s the only way to give the bishops the possibility of filling the space with new ideas. Also, laypeople must be brought into the church’s decision-making. We must put pressure on church leaders to open dialogue and to use the gifts and charisms of the faithful.

What do you say to those who argue that your issues with the institutional church are unique to Europe and the U.S. and that the majority of the Roman Catholics who live in the global South and Asia do not share these concerns?

These societies will be confronted with same questions. Our Latin American and South American colleagues are already saying to us, “Don’t think we don’t have the same problems.” Globally, societies are changing very quickly. In 10 or 20 years, the global South will face the same questions we [face]. In mega-cities, they already are. Church leaders must not hope they can get around these questions. They will arise. Maybe the church in Europe and the U.S. should be thought of not as a dying church, but as a laboratory for the future, where the church engages with the modern society. We should not overestimate the numbers of people going to church, and we should not underestimate the problems the church is facing.

Complete Article HERE!

After Second Approved Miracle, Pope John Paul II Likely to Become a Saint

The best part of this news is: if this man can make it to heaven, no one else has anything to worry about.



by Barbie Latza Nadeau

John Paul II make the wrong call on this guy.

On May 1, 2011, the late pope John Paul II was beatified as a precursor to sainthood after being credited for miraculously curing a French nun of Parkinson’s disease. On that day, the family of a severely ill Costa Rican woman reportedly prayed to the beatified pontiff for her recovery. According to Costa Rican daily La Nación, the sick woman had visited the Calerdon Guardia hospital in San José just days before John Paul was beatified and was diagnosed with an aneurysm on a major blood vessel in her brain. After the beautification and the family’s prayers, the aneurysm miraculously disappeared, according to Alejandro Vargas Roman, the attending physician in an interview with La Nación. Because there was no logical medical explanation and plenty of proof of the prayers to the pontiff, the miracle was chalked up to the divine intercession of the late John Paul II. It was then submitted to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, along with scores of others, to be considered as his second miracle, which is necessary for attaining sainthood.

This week, after a thorough review, the congregation approved a yet unnamed miracle in which they say John Paul II was responsible for the “inexplicable recovery” of a gravely ill person. On Friday, before Pope Francis officially signed off on the second miracle, rumors hinted that it supposedly took place in Costa Rica. In fact, the Costa Rican woman’s doctor has confirmed that he submitted paperwork to the Congregation reviewing the miracles. Whatever it was, the second miracle now paved the way for John Paul II to become a saint, which will likely be celebrated in a canonization ceremony later this year, possibly on December 8, which is a major Catholic feast day and national holiday in Italy. He will likely be canonized together with John XXIII, another favored pope that Pope Francis decided to beatify without proof of miracles.

In deciding the validity of miracles, the Congregation for the Causes of Saints must consider reams of testimony, including lengthy reports from medical doctors and technicians who must eliminate beyond a reasonable doubt any medical explanation for the recovery. In the case of John Paul II’s first miracle, Monsignor Slawomir Oder, who was then postulator of the cause for that miracle, told The Daily Beast that thousands of cases were presented for consideration as miracles by people in Brazil, Colombia, Italy, Mexico, Poland, Spain, and the United States, but the most compelling was the case of the French nun, Sister Marie Simon-Pierre, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2001 when she was just 40 years old. She was miraculously cured of the disease on June 2, 2005, after a night of prayer to the Polish pontiff, who had died two months earlier. “Since then I have not taken any treatment. My life has completely changed—it was like a second birth for me,” she said at the time her miracle was accepted by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. Sister Simon-Pierre suffered what seemed to be a brief relapse just as preparations were being finalized for John Paul II’s beautification, but it turned out to be a false alarm. She was the keynote speaker at the beatification ceremony, which drew more than 1 million pilgrims to Rome. “What the Lord has granted me through the intercession of John Paul II is a great mystery difficult to explain with words— something very great and profound— but nothing is impossible for God,” she told those gathered for the celebratory event.

Miracles are by their nature not easy to prove, and the Congregation for the Causes of Saints does not take its work lightly. There are more than 30 monsignors, bishops, and archbishops who shoulder the theological weight of validating miracles, including ascertaining proof that the cured patient spent sufficient time in honest prayer to the would-be saint. But there are also more than 80 consultants, including medical doctors, technicians, psychiatrists, and even hand-writing analysts who investigate every aspect of the miracle in search of a secular explanation. Sister Simon-Pierre underwent extensive psychological testing to vet her belief in John Paul II, and her Mother Superior and sisters in her convent were quizzed about her faith. Doctor Franco Di Rosa sat on the Vatican’s miracle board for more than 25 years as a medical consultant. He described to The Daily Beast how the process works, and how the person who claims a miracle must be thoroughly investigated: “He or she must go to their bishop who then charges outside specialists with verifying that the treatments were ineffective,” he says. “He or she must also go many years without a relapse.”

The postulator of the miracle, who acts as a caretaker to shepherd the miracle process through a labyrinth of bureaucratic red tape, then prepares an extensive dossier including medical records, X-rays, and medication history to substantiate whether conventional treatment may have aided the cure. Two doctors then review the case before sending it to a committee of five medical experts who must all agree that there is no explanation for the reversal of the disease other than divine intervention. “In 99 percent of the cases, we find a medical explanation,” he says. “In the rare cases we don’t, the panel of theologians then steps in to make a final recommendation to the pope.”

In the case of John Paul II, some naysayers have said that his promotion to sainthood has been fast-tracked to ride the wave of the pope’s enduring popularity during troubling times at the Vatican with a barrage of sex and financial scandals. When John Paul II died in 2005, pilgrims held signs and chanted “santo subito,” or “sainthood now,” at his funeral. Pope Benedict XVI sped things up for his predecessor by waiving the standard five-year waiting period between death and beatification for John Paul II to facilitate the process that allowed the late pope’s cause to reach the brink of sainthood so soon.

Whatever the reason, canonizing John Paul II will easily be one of the most important feel-good events in the church’s history. More than a million followers came to Rome for the beatification, and many more are expected when he escalates to sainthood. And that might be just the miracle the troubled church is looking for.

Complete Article HERE!

Cardinal O’Malley bars talk by priest over views

File under: We Don’t need no stinkin’ discussion on the topics.



by Lisa Wangsness

Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley is banning an Austrian priest from speaking at a Catholic parish in Dedham because the priest advocates ordaining women and making celibacy optional, stances that place him in opposition to church teachings.

Father Helmut SchüllerThe Rev. Helmut Schuller was invited to speak at St. Susanna Parish July 17 as part of a 15-city tour of the United States called “The Catholic Tipping Point: Conversations with Helmut Schuller,” sponsored by a coalition of reform-minded Catholic organizations, including Voice of the Faithful, based in Needham.

But O’Malley has declared he will not allow anyone to speak on church property who advocates beliefs in conflict with church doctrine.

As a result, the coalition that invited Schuller has moved its event to a nearby Unitarian Universalist church.

Schuller is the founder of the Austrian Priests’ Initiative, which advocates allowing women and married people to become priests and greater lay participation as ways of addressing a priest shortage. About 1 in 10 Austrian priests are members, the Austrian Independent newspaper reported; priests’ groups have sprung up in several countries, including Ireland and the United States, and Schuller has said he hopes the movement will spread worldwide.

Terrence C. Donilon, a spokesman for the archdiocese, said in a statement released to the Globe: “It is the policy of the Archdiocese of Boston, and the generally accepted practice in dioceses across the country, not to permit individuals to conduct speaking engagements in Catholic parishes or at church events when those individuals promote positions that are contrary to Catholic teachings.”

Leaders of the coalition that invited Schuller expressed dismay with O’Malley’s decision.

“Cardinal O’Malley is known to be a pastoral person and certainly as someone who is dealing with the ravages of the priest shortage in Boston, I would have hoped he would be more sympathetic” to Schuller’s message, said Sister Chris Schenk, executive director of Future Church, which advocates opening ordination to all baptized Catholics. “Laypeople have to be able to have a voice and a venue to talk about their honest concerns and questions, and to just refuse any Catholic venue for this conversation to take place sends a very, very sad message.”

Larry Bloom, a deacon and director of adult faith formation at St. Susanna, said his parish has a longstanding relationship with Voice of the Faithful, and when that group needed a venue for Schuller’s talk, he did some research. “I found out he was a priest, I found out he had a parish, I found out that he was in good standing with the Archdiocese of Vienna, and then I called them back and said sure,” he said.O’Malley

When Auxiliary Bishop Walter J. Edyvean told him O’Malley would not allow Schuller to speak, Bloom said it was the first time in his 11 years at the parish that the archdiocese had taken such an action.

Bloom said he was not upset. “The archbishop has the right to have his own thoughts on the matter,” he said, “and he has a lot more to think about than we do at our own parish.”

Schuller’s group, the Austrian Priests’ Initiative, organized a “Call to Disobedience” that was signed by several hundred priests two years ago who pledged to begin serving communion to any Christian of goodwill, including non-Catholics and the divorced and remarried; to advocate for ordination of women and married people; to let trained laity preach, including women; and to oppose closing parishes.

“We will advocate that every parish has a presiding leader, man or woman, married or unmarried, full time or part time,” the manifesto says. “Rather than consolidating parishes, we call for a new image of the priest.”

A fledgling American priests’ organization is meeting in Seattle and discussing a series of reforms, but on the whole, US priests have been less willing to challenge the status quo so boldly.

“It seems to me there is much more of a willingness in Europe, even among the hierarchy, to discuss some of these issues,” said Francis Schussler Fiorenza, professor of Roman Catholic theological studies at Harvard Divinity School. “O’Malley tends to be very theologically conservative and seems to be disinclined to allow open discussion in church venues.”

A survey by the Oekonsult polling group conducted last year found that nearly 90 percent of Austrians supported Schuller’s plan to take the initiative global, according to the Austrian Independent.

The Vatican stripped Schuller of his title of monsignor in late 2012, although he remains an active priest. Cardinal Christoph Schonborn, archbishop of Vienna, said he was “shocked” when the call to disobedience went out. In May he told the Italian newspaper La Stampa that the priests involved could face discipline, the Independent reported.

Schuller, the former head of the aid agency Caritas Austria, served as vicar general of the Archdiocese of Vienna in the mid- to late 1990s under Schonborn, who fired him in 1999 for reasons that are unclear. He is now a parish priest in Probstdorf, just east of Vienna. He could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Marianne Duddy-Burke, executive director of DignityUSA, a gay and lesbian Catholic advocacy group cosponsoring Schuller’s tour, said she was particularly upset about O’Malley’s decision because the cardinal had been tapped by Pope Francis to sit on a panel of prelates from around the world who will advise him on overhauling church governance.

“Here we are trying to bring a resource for conversation about church governance to the area, and we’re not allowed to have the conversation in Catholic space,” she said.

O’Malley has already offered his own answer to the priest shortage, a bold and risky effort, now in its pilot phase, to group Boston’s 288 parishes into 135 collaboratives, each of which will share a single team of priests, staff, and lay leaders. By using money and priests’ time more efficiently and then focusing on evangelization, parishes can become stronger and more vibrant, the cardinal has said, leading to more young men entering the priesthood. The Archdiocese of Boston has 285 active priests and projects that will decline to 200 by 2022, though it hopes the new plan will bolster those numbers.

Schenk said the only other city where Schuller is scheduled to speak at a Catholic parish is Detroit. Other appearances are slated for Protestant churches or other venues.

Complete Article HERE!