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RC priest initiative

More than 300 RC priests in Austria have joined Aufruf zum Ungehorsam (Call to Disobedience)

The Call speaks of “the Roman refusal of a long-overdue Church reform and the inaction of bishops.” The priests agree

  • to pray for Church reform at every liturgy, since “in the presence of God there is freedom of speech”
  • not to deny the Holy Eucharist to “believers of good will,” including non-Catholic Christians and those who have remarried outside the Church
  • to avoid offering Mass more than once on Sundays and holy days and to avoid making use of visiting priests–instead holding a “self-designed” Liturgy of the Word
  • to describe such a Liturgy of the Word with the distribution of Holy Communion as a “priestless Eucharistic celebration”; “thus we fulfill the Sunday obligation in a time of priest shortage”
  • to “ignore” canonical norms that restrict the preaching of the homily to clergy
  • to oppose parish mergers, insisting instead that each parish have its own individual leader, “whether man or woman”
  • to “use every opportunity to speak out openly in favour of the admission of the married and of women to the priesthood”

In Australia, the National Council of Priests defended the bishop of Toowoomba, Bishop William Morris, who had issued a pastoral letter saying that, facing a severe priest shortage, he would ordain women and married men “if Rome would allow it.” The Vatican forced him to resign.

In USA more than 150 RC priests have signed a letter supporting the priesthood and the right to conscience of Fr Roy Bourgeois. Fr Roy had participated in an ordination service of Roman Catholic Womenpriests. Fr Roy is a member of the Maryknoll order which has called on him to recant.

CathNews New Zealand draws attention to the new documentary, Pink smoke over the Vatican:

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39 thoughts on “RC priest initiative”

  1. Am I right in thinking there is an RC organisation in the USA called “keep the faith, change the church”? (I’m Anglican in the UK, so am unfamiliar with that area.) That sounds like a neat, succinct description of demonstrating faithfulness to the Church (as in the “bride of Christ”) whilst calling for repentance of the human institution (as in self-preservation cover-ups of abusive behaviour).

    1. Thanks, David. I was unaware of this group, but have now found their website. On a quick look it appears to advocate for lay sharing in church governance. In NZ Anglicanism this happens through a house of laity at each level of governance.

  2. ‘Disobedience’ is such a negative framing of the issue, Bosco. Might our colleagues in Austria be open to a different name. Say, “Call to be Anglican-like” 🙂

    Incidentally Austria is quite close to Australia. Just three letters difference!

    1. Yes, Andrei, changing denominations is an alternative to being committed to one’s denomination and seeking renewal/change from within. In some, maybe many, places Anglicanism may still clearly be a reformed/renewed catholicism with a strong commitment to common prayer in liturgy, for example. In other places, as I’ve indicated in different posts on this site, Anglicanism has abandoned its commitment, for example, to common prayer and so I’m not sure that in such places people committed to a catholic approach to Christianity would find Anglicanism there a good way to move forward.

      1. There is but one Church Fr Bosco – denominations are a sign of humanities fallen nature.

        Being wedded to a denomination might be a case of not seeing the wood for the trees.

        Are not all members of the Church called to spread the Gospel? And isn’t spreading dissension within the Church contrary to this?

        You do have to wonder though about where pushing for positions of authority within the temporal organizational structure of the church (note lower case c) based upon contemporary notions of identity politics is going and what it leads to.

        1. Thanks, Andrei. I have often on this site make the point you make. I think that our real unity (and divisions) cross the denominational lines (at right angles as it were). Blessings.

      2. A very good point. A few times I attempted to flee to the Episcopal Church (the USA sister-church of the Church of England) — and it felt like I was being dropped on a foreign planet.

        You enter the church — and not a Holy Water font is to be found anywhere. (A few parishes in the dioceses have Holy Water fonts that are nearly-empty.)

        And when I mention what strength I get from the traditional Rosary, they try to get me interested in the Anglican Rosary rather than the traditional Rosary.

        They are so bent on weaning me from what makes me distinctly Catholic that going to the Episcopal Church ceases to be a solution to the transphobia in the Magisterium of the Roman Catholic Church.

  3. What is termed (translated) as “disobedience” seems very reasonable and thought-out solutions to problems they find themselves confronting, without any support (it sounds) from those higher up in the RC hierarchy. But it is probably a big deal for them. We look back on a history of the whole Church where others have had difficulty getting issues resolved so they have split off to form a new denomination, and we might view that in a matter-of-fact sort of way today, but it must have been painful at the time. It would be nice if there was a helpful way to support those in the initiative, without it being anything like “interfering”.

    The part of the problem that keeps coming up in different forms seems to be the question of what ministering can be done by somebody who is not a priest (that may be a woman, or married, that wants to be priested perhaps, or could be happy to remain a deacon or a trained lay person). The three thorns to make this issue hard to handle seem to be: the Bible’s job descriptions for deacons, priests and bishops are a bit light in the details the world looks for in such definitions (but the goals for them as a whole are laid out perfectly); what various denominations (well, okay, one in particular) thinks of as the tradition going back to the year dot has actually changed lots since NT times; and the biggy: whatever reasonable things some committee may decide is right and proper can still upset a chunk of the believers’ community and have them jumping ship or whatever (as they would have been inclined to do back in the days of seeing the eating of meat sacrificed to idols) so you still have to rock the boat only very gently. It is a pity that, with all our opportunities to learn, the human race still has as much difficulty dealing with the same kind of issues that were found in the Bible.

    1. Thanks, Mark. There is a (protestant) propensity to split into smaller and smaller groups differing in to-outsiders-incomprehensible doctrinal minutiae. One popular discussion point here currently: the 900 or so differing denominations that resulted from the break-up of the “Worldwide Church of God” (Plain Truth / Herbert W Armstrong). I do not think this is a healthy tendency…

  4. I agree with Peter – although this is certainly (to use a phrase I don’t particularly like, but can’t at this moment think of an equivalent for) “a conversation that needs to be had”, I wonder whether “disobedience” is the most helpful way for the participants to phrase what they’re doing. Would “obedience to the Church” (as opposed to the hierarchy) or something similar not be a better description?

  5. This is truly awful, what these priests are doing. Having had personal experience with a priest here in NZ who wants to replace daily Mass with communion services, I believe that the spirit behind it is diabolical. He does a great job of pretending to be a priest, but works quietly in the background to dismantle what is left of Catholic devotions. And anyone who opposes him is publicly denounced from the pulpit. Such a refreshing difference to deal with the Opus Dei priests instead.

  6. Bosco, did you notice that at the end of the you-tube clip, the second site that the viewer is referred to is called eyegoddess.com? That to me shows just where the inspiration for women priests comes from – it’s pagan in origin.

    1. Thanks, Lucia, for pointing to that link. I had a look at it, but couldn’t work out, from their “about” page, what you appear to derive from it. Also, I think that people use the word “pagan” in a variety of ways and I’m not sure, unless we unpack the way it is used, how to understand it. Blessings.

  7. In terms of Catholic freedom of expression for matters of Life and Faith, and at that in Austria- it is refreshing that there is a distinct difference to the climate that prevailed in the Catholic family just prior to WWII.
    Hopefully all Austrian Catholics will now be quite as clearcut and outspoken about their former anti- Semitic sentiments and behaviour that was part of the climate whereby the Vatican became compromised and intimidated by German National Socialism?

  8. Hi, the word pagan here may have more modern (European) nihilist and existentialist connotations, it should not readily be likened to shamanism or tribalism. There has been since the 1920’s a pervasive philosophical acceptance that modern paganism lies merely in the distinction that society doesn’t perse want to be associated with metaphysical overburdens any longer; or indeed even to be reminded that ontological antecedents of such former states of “first- second or third man” (cit: Alfred Weber) make up the modern “come of age” human framework! Even Heidegger’s “Being” can be a holistic notion, albeit descriptive of vacuity but mustn’t be equated with God or indeed with the Human anointed- and Jewish man- Jesus. They are to be seen (apparently) as but semiotic reminders. There is therefore an acceptance of Germanic legendary root origins (c.f. Wagner, Edda legends) and that christianity should receive a remodelling within such frameworks (horrific as it may sound). Therefore this may not just be a rejection of (catholic) orthodoxy but a continuation of the nihilist process of rationally reframing the whole of christian faith.

  9. I’m encouraged to see this development. The only caution I would offer is that we not call a Eucharist without an ordained leader there as “priestless.” Isn’t it the sense of the council of Vatican II that we are all priests by virtue of our baptism? If so, the eucharistic ritual is not priestless—there are myriad priests, though perhaps none of them have yet been called forth by the people and been ordained.

    1. Thanks, Eileen. What you say is true – not just a teaching reinforced by Vatican II, but the teaching of Christianity going back into the early church. I would, however, add a caution to your caution. English, unfortunately, only has one word “priest” for two distinct Greek words – one referring to our baptismal priesthood, the other referring to ordained priesthood. One post about it is here. Blessings.

      1. Well, I don’t think we could very well bring back “presbyter” (much less “prester”). (It was okay until the Presbyterians needed to use it! 🙂 )

        1. Yes, Matt, for the English language, which is supposed to have so many more words than most other languages, we Christians have allowed our vocabulary to shrink and be abused in such a way that we too easily misunderstand each other and even ourselves. “Hierarchy” is another word that I am sad we have allowed to lose its meaning… Blessings.

  10. I’ve just started reading a preview of Those Mysterious Priests by the late Archbishop Fulton Sheen, which in the first few chapters talks about the separation of victimhood from priesthood, and all the problems that causes. All of the issues the priests in Austria have seen to be at the root a profound disconnect with who they are supposed to represent, ie Christ. Really puts things into perspective for me – I’m going to have to buy the book.

    1. Thanks, Lucia. Obviously we all (need to) represent Christ, and that includes holding together the Christ who challenges and the Christ who submits. Having just seen the film, Of Gods and Men, I found it grappled with holding that together very well and movingly. Blessings.

      1. I haven’t seen Of Gods and Men, is is out on DVD here? I’d love to see it.

        I’ve bought a few DVDs from Amazon in recent years, but they are coded region-1 which makes them problematic to watch on my DVD player, so now I try and wait for movies to come out here rather than buying them. Case in point, have been waiting for The Rite for what seemed just about ever, and it finally came out this month. Fantastic movie, btw, shows the reality of the demonic and how it works to subvert faith.

        1. Yes, Lucia, I provide a link to Amazon for the DVD of “Of Gods and Men” on my post. Zoning is an issue. The movie has already been to NZ – it missed Christchurch, where I live, obviously because of the destruction of the cinemas. But if it came to your area and your parish didn’t promote it – you should be asking some serious questions why not 🙂

  11. Possibly the reason for my take on the Austrian issues being so different to Lucia Maria’s “truly awful” view is that I think they are not really out to replace something good and authentic with some watered-down imitation, so much as find a compromise that holds fast to the highest priority traditions; addressing their problem of an on-going acute shortage of priests by going back to the basics (if you cannot have everything you want, what are the most important goals?) and acknowledging there is a problem with a rushed day racing between congregations where the “boxes are ticked” according to one perspective, but really nobody gets authentic ministering and a Christian coming-together in the way people from NT times to maybe a generation ago would have taken for granted.

    Now, I may be wrong in how I see their aims, or they may be wrong in the solutions being suggested, but I hope the Church as a whole is open to every breath of change from the Spirit, (remembering that “change” is sometimes returning to the place we started, knowing it better) and when there are disagreements it would be so nice if everyone involved was encouraged to go down the right paths for the right reasons, rather than be tempted to go their own ways for the 901st time. I appreciate there are many extraneous issues that could be, or are, being roped into this but I think the central question is too important to obfuscate: when it comes down to jettisoning the less-important to protect the most-important, how does the Church as a whole go forwards with what God would have us do? If it merely splinters it means there are two problems, not one: the issue at hand hasn’t been fully resolved, and the Church as a whole has not learned how to sort out disagreements.

  12. Mark, sorry, I agree with Lucia Maria. The Holy Spirit is moving in the Church and that is through the return to tradition that is taking place and the vocations are flowing into the traditional orders. I think the Novus Ordo will die out naturally through a lack of vocations and the fall off in Mass attendance and will be supplanted by the Latin Mass in the Extraordinary form. Unfortunately, the experimentation and false interpretation of Vatican II have left the Church in a sorry state. I think there will be a natural transfer of priests and people like those in Austria who will move to churches such as the Anglican Communion and those in the Anglican Communion who will move to Rome because there will be no change in the Church as the Holy Father and Popes before him has indicated and they hold the Keys, not the priests in Austria – they are just part of the protestant movement that has taken place over the centuries.

  13. http://www.edmundrice.org/Surge-in-Vocations-to-the-Priesthood

    Reports a surge in vocations in Australia and elsewhere:

    Why the surge in priestly vocations?
    A major research project from the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University was published in the United States eighteen months ago. The research showed clearly and unambiguously that most new vocations in the United States are going to Orders (and seminaries!) that practice and stress more traditional forms of religious life and priestly formation.
    This trend is clearly visible in Australia where no comparable research has been done. The CARA study concluded: “The most successful seminaries and institutes in attracting and retaining new members at this time are those that follow a more traditional style of priestly formation and religious life in which members live together in community, participate in the daily Eucharist, pray the Divine Office and engage in devotional practices together. They wear a religious habit, work together in common apostolates, and are explicit in their fidelity to the Church and the teachings of the Magisterium. All of these characteristics are especially attractive to the young people who are entering seminaries and Religious life today.”
    The CARA study was keen to explore and stress the most successful approaches to recruiting for the priestly vocation. These approaches include:
    involving priests and lay leadership in a concerted vocation promotion effort
    having a full time Vocation Director
    using new media like the Internet and Facebook
    offering discernment or ‘come-and-see’ opportunities for potential members, and
    exposing young Catholics from primary school through High School to university on vocation issues.
    In Australia , these approaches are well known and practised – in the context of a priestly formation which stresses the eternal basics of the spiritual life – the Mass, the Divine Office, solid devotions – and faithfulness to the Magisterium of the Church.
    In the mid-year, university vacation, 2010, Vianney College, Wagga, hosted the 12th National Inter-Seminary Soccer Tournament. Over 200 seminarians from around Australia this annual event and found the event affirming their vocations.
    The following comment caught the enthusiastic mood: ‘We don’t get to see each other very much and so it’s wonderfully uplifting when you stand in a large room jam-packed with guys and think: ‘All these men are headed for the priesthood.’

      1. That’s one thing that I think is helped, in Anglicanism, by the breadth of practice – if a particular order, or movement, or style of worship doesn’t seem quite “where you belong”, you can always “move over just a bit” and remain Anglican; which is only possible to a very limited extent in Catholicism.

        On the other hand, it seems that this might be conducive to just the sort of thing you seem to be concerned about in New Zealand right now, Bosco: people adopting a huge variety of “practices for our church” without really thinking about the basis for those practices as “Anglican practices”.

        1. There is so much in your comment to think about, thanks Matt. What constitutes common prayer, for example? Somewhere on this site I launched a discussion about what constitutes the Daily Office, the Prayer of the Church? These are questions that I continue to grapple with. The core of Christian unity is smaller, and the diversity of Christianity is broader than most acknowledge.

  14. Something about your mention of “Daily Office” stuck out, as if it were something I was really supposed to notice. The first thing that came to mind was a (comic take on) music history book I have, which notes that the Daily Office was also called the “hours,” and concludes that monks must have had a sign on their door marked “Office Hours” 🙂

    More seriously, one of the first things that I do when looking into a question is look up etymologies. (It’s my academic background; I used to be a linguistics major.) In this case, it seems that “office” comes from Latin “ops”, which the dictionary entry defined as “power, might, abundance, means”; and it’s from an Indo-European stem meaning “to work, to produce in abundance.” Maybe something to think about when trying to phrase the question “What constitutes the Daily Office of the Church?”

    1. Like you, Matt, I have a fascination for etymology. The Divine Office is the Opus Dei, the work of God. It is part of our primary mission as church. Thanks. Blessings.

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