Dialogue not sanctions for dissenting Austrian priests

Austrian media are making the dissident priests’ call to reform something more than it is according to Michael Pruller, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Vienna.

Cardinal Schonborn is however interested in working with the dissenting Austrian priests to help bring new life to Viennese parishes, Pruller said.

Pruller confirmed that despite media reports to the contrary, there had been no discussion of sanctions, no ultimatums, nor talks of punishment.

“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.

There is ongoing debate and there has to be continued discussion into the underlying issues Pruller said.

Meanwhile, the president of the Austrian conference of superiors of men’s religious orders has called for a “church summit” to involve all Austrian church leaders, not just Cardinal Schonborn, in discussing ways to respond to the priests’ initiative and consider possible reforms.

The “turmoil” now reportedly involves more than 400 priests who have called for reform around

  • women and married people to be allowed to be ordained priests
  • an end to the celibacy rule
  • the right for lay people to preach
  • members of other Christian faiths to receive holy communion
  • remarried people also have the right to receive holy communion.
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