Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Austrian Bishops in open revolt


Rorate Caeli suggests the Austrian Bishops are in "open revolt", below is an extract from a letter issued under the signature of Cardinal von Shoenberg and Austria's senior bishop following an emergency meeting after Fr Wagner withdrew from his appointment as auxilliary bishop to the uber-liberal diocese of Linz. The implications of "factions" seem to indicate the Austrian Church is ungovernable.


"4. There were problems of communication in the recent appointment of an auxiliary bishop for the Diocese of Linz. The bishops are aware that Fr Wagner asked the Pope to withdraw the appointment. The theme of Episcopal appointments is therefore important because since the mid-eighties in Austria it has been associated with a number of problems. For many, the controversy over episcopal appointments led to a painful conflict, and they have triggered splits in the church.
It is precisely in this area that sensitivity is most appropriate. There is no question that the Pope is free to appoint bishops. The bishops do not want to go back in time where - as in 1918 - the Emperor alone chose the bishops. Even a 'popular choice' of the bishops would divide the church into parties and conflicts would be inevitable.
We bishops are convinced that the procedure provided for in canon law for the selection and the examination of candidates has proved its worth, if this procedure is really followed. Therefore, before the Holy Father takes the final decision, reliable and thoroughly tested basic information must be provided on which he can rely.
In Austria in the next few years a number of bishops are to be appointed. The faithful are legitimately concerned that the process of candidate search, examination of the proposals and the final decisions should be carefully undertaken and with pastoral sensitivity are possible.
This can ensure that bishops are appointed who are not 'against' but 'for' a local church. We bishops will make every possible effort to support the forthcoming episcopal appointments in the sense of monitoring these procedures in close cooperation with the relevant Vatican offices."

....
"Trusting in God's help, we will overcome the crisis of recent weeks." [Adapted according to original text]

22 comments:

mafeking said...

I'm inclined to say "outrageous" at first (and of course it is) but maybe this is one battle we cannot win and it's best to be pragmatic about it. Maybe the appointment would have worked if the Williamson affair hadn't broken at the same time but it did and scuppered the plan. It gave the Austrian and German Bishops just the leverage they wanted and they've used it to full advantage. So much for the "love" and "charity" of the liberals. They are as cute as foxes. Regular spin doctors.

What I do think is how this affair has helped to identify the ring leaders and so hopefully we can use it to our adavntage. It also shows just how immature some of our senior clerics are. They stamp their feet and cry like babies when someone does something they don't like. Diddums. The next thing is we'll have to put them in detention until they calm down.

I know it's never going to happen but I wish somebody would draw up a couple of sheets of anathemas nail it to the front door of St. Peter's Basillica and ask who wants to leave. The screeching and squealing of these bunch of women (they certainly aren't men) is getting on my nerves. Can we just go to mass please gents?. I'm sick to the teeth of your brand of "love" and "charity". It seems awfully like hectoring and browbeating to me.

alban said...

Dear Fr Blake, From the reading of this section of the letter, I'm not sure where the 'revolt' can be seen. (I have no German and so am unable to read the letter in its original. If someone can provide it in complete form, it would be most useful).

The bishops clearly declare that "There is no question that the pope is free to appoint bishops" and that the procedure laid down in canon law "..has proved its worth". However, the Austrian bishops are indicating that canon law is not being followed; if that is so, it is worrying.

We only have to think of the appointment of Stanislaw Wieglus to Warsaw in 2007 to remember how the procedure can go horribly wrong; there have assuredly been other mistakes e.g. the lack of information concerning Bp Williamson of the SSPX. Therefore, the Austrian bishops justifiably state that before the Holy Father makes a decision "..reliable and thoroughly tested basic information must be provided on which he(the pope)can rely".

Methinks that Rorate Caeli is shouting "revolt" where none exists; this is equally worrying as it serves only to promote division, albeit unintended.

Ma Tucker said...

If you don't stand with Peter, you don't stand with Christ. I'm glad I'm not Austrian. I'm afraid I'd be sorely tempted to march on this conference of wolves and kick them out as the faithful did with the Arian heretical Bishops.

May God protect good Catholics of Austria from these wolves.


On an aesthetical point, Is it just me or did you find the letter a little ....bizare. It comes accross as the kind of letter you'd expect from a silly schoolgirl throwing a tantrum. As a relatively young Catholic I find it very childish. It's hard to believe grown men could put pen to such an immature letter. I suppose it's possible the translation is poor. Being heretical is bad enough but one does expect even heretical bishops to be at least manly. It really is all too much.

old believer said...

Eamon Duffy, in his book 'Faith of our Fathers', points out how relatively modern the appointment of bishops by the pope is. "By 1829, 555 of the 646 diocesan bishops of the Roman Catholic Church were appointed by the state. Another 67, in the USA, Ireland, parts of Germany, Belgium and Switzerland were locally elected by cathedral chapters or similar arrangement. The pope acting a sovereign of the papal states not as bishop of Rome, appointed 70 bishops. As pope he appointed directly just 24 in Russian, Greece and Albania." p.73

On balance it does appear that the Church was more healthy in the days before the papacy directly appointed bishops and, to coin a liturgical metaphor, bishops grew 'organically' from their dioceses.

Paul said...

Arise, O Lord, and judge Your Own cause. Remember Your reproaches to those who are filled with foolishness all through the day. Listen to our prayers, for foxes have arisen seeking to destroy the vineyard whose winepress You alone have trod. When You were about to ascend to Your Father, You committed the care, rule, and administration of the vineyard, an image of the triumphant church, to Peter, as the head and Your vicar and his successors. The wild boar from the forest seeks to destroy it and every wild beast feeds upon it.
Rise, Peter, and fulfill this pastoral office divinely entrusted to you as mentioned above. Give heed to the cause of the holy Roman Church, mother of all churches and teacher of the faith, whom you by the order of God, have consecrated by your blood. Against the Roman Church, you warned, lying teachers are rising, introducing ruinous sects, and drawing upon themselves speedy doom. Their tongues are fire, a restless evil, full of deadly poison. They have bitter zeal, contention in their hearts, and boast and lie against the truth.
We beseech you also, Paul, to arise. It was you that enlightened and illuminated the Church by your doctrine and by a martyrdom like Peter's. For now a new Porphyry rises who, as the old once wrongfully assailed the holy apostles, now assails the holy pontiffs, our predecessors.
Finally, let the whole church of the saints and the rest of the universal church arise. Let all this holy Church of God, I say, arise, and with the blessed apostles intercede with almighty God to purge the errors of His sheep, to banish all heresies from the lands of the faithful, and be pleased to maintain the peace and unity of His holy Church.
Arise, O Lord, and judge your own cause. Remember your reproaches to those who are filled with foolishness all through the day. Listen to our prayers, for foxes have arisen seeking to destroy the vineyard whose winepress you alone have trod. When you were about to ascend to your Father, you committed the care, rule, and administration of the vineyard, an image of the triumphant church, to Peter, as the head and your vicar and his successors. The wild boar from the forest seeks to destroy it and every wild beast feeds upon it.
Rise, Peter, and fulfill this pastoral office divinely entrusted to you as mentioned above. Give heed to the cause of the holy Roman Church, mother of all churches and teacher of the faith, whom you by the order of God, have consecrated by your blood. Against the Roman Church, you warned, lying teachers are rising, introducing ruinous sects, and drawing upon themselves speedy doom. Their tongues are fire, a restless evil, full of deadly poison. They have bitter zeal, contention in their hearts, and boast and lie against the truth.
We beseech you also, Paul, to arise. It was you that enlightened and illuminated the Church by your doctrine and by a martyrdom like Peter's. For now a new Porphyry rises who, as the old once wrongfully assailed the holy apostles, now assails the holy pontiffs, our predecessors.
Let all this holy Church of God, I say, arise, and with the blessed apostles intercede with almighty God to purge the errors of His sheep, to banish all heresies from the lands of the faithful, and be pleased to maintain the peace and unity of His holy Church.

Relevant excerpts from the
Papal Bull Exsurge Domine
Pope Leo X, June 15, 1520
that can be applied to the
Austrian Bishops.

Henry said...

That's not the easiest of reads. It looks as if it was out of a German text translated.

Bishops do seem to be a bit of a problem - how many of them opposed the English Deformation?

alban said...

Fr Blake, A friend of mine, who is a priest in Salzburg, sent me an email today. In it he mentions that the cathedral chapter of Linz is one of several in Austria which possesses the canonical right to accept or reject a candidate for bishop; if this is true (and I have no reason to suspect otherwise), then the chapter were simply exercising their office rather than showing any disobedience to Pope Benedict.

If a chapter has the right to choose, then we must accept that on occasion they may say "No". Perhaps if the pope had received sufficient, and accurate information on Fr. Wagner, he would never have placd him before the chapter in the first instance.

Some weeks ago you mentioned a certain admiration for the way things are done in the Eastern tradition; I would belatedly agree with you. We can perhaps learn from our Eastern brothers and sisters who tend to be more collegial in their deliberations.

Laurence said...

The hippy Cross behind them says more than they ever could.

I.P. said...

Reading this carefully could someone tell me who is supposed to be in revolt against the Pope? The letter says he is "free to appoint Bishops" and says he must be provided with "reliable and thoroughly tested basic information". They ask to be consulted. What is unreasonable and revolting about that?

Acted upon this is a recipe for good government not a manifesto for revolt.

Sadie Vacantist said...

"The bishops do not want to go back in time where - as in 1918 - the Emperor alone chose the bishops ..."

but that IS exactly what is happening. New emperors emerge all the time and these bishops are being intimidated by them. The Wagner affair indicates its easy to do Catholicism on a blog but 'out there' it's another matter.

The political/economic situation will have to change radically for the Austrian Church to revive. This letter is a suicide note pending that change.

PeterHWright said...

The Pope wo'nt like this at all, but he will want to avoid a formal schism. However, it looks like it is coming, anyway. I think the situation in Austria (and partly in Germany) has been left to fester for far too long, twenty years too long. The Church in France appeared lost many years ago. Now, the Church in Austria appears to be in more or less open revolt.

We seem to be witnessing a new form of Gallicanism. This was probably an inevitability.

Is E.& W. next, I wonder ?

Christopher said...

Well, it is a dangerous thing to be a bishop (James 3:1). Wasn't it Chrysostom (himself a bishop) who said the infernal parquet was made up of their skulls? If only all bishops would think about that a bit more, and perhaps if a few more were like Fr. Wagner and realised they could not take on so grave a responsibility we would be considerably better off.

Ottaviani said...

Alban - regardless of whether the diocese of Salzburg has the right to veto the appointment of a bishop, the question to be asked if why would they veto the appointment of Fr. Wagner? Is it because he does not fit in with the agendas of the Austrian bishops' conference? Or because he will disturb the status quo of Linz?

The fact that there was a systematic campaign to pull Fr. Wagner shows that there is indeed an agenda and that the Austrian bishops are more or less telling the Pope where to stick the proverbial. They have shamelessly used the whole Williamson fiasco as an excuse to undermine the Pope in everything that he does.

georgem said...

My gut reaction is that the letter would have passed muster if sent privately as an appeal to The Vatican. Publishing it takes it into a new arena - the Roman one comes to mind.
The wolves are bearing their teeth and not only in Austria. The poisonous saliva is dripping off the jaws of liberals around Europe.
One thing I'll say for the traddies. They have never sought to undermine the Holy Father, whoever it was, in spite of the privations visited upon them.
I'm off to say Day 4 of the Novena for The Pope.

Ma Tucker said...

Alban,
Cathcon blog described what happened to Fr Wagner.

Sadie Vacantist said...

This whole business has become more complicated over the last 45 years because of the changeing political situation. It's pointless dissing the bishops and Benedict knows this.

Vatican II is the excuse but there is something much bigger going on here than an ecumenical council.

Henry said...

Sadie,

Could you possibly name the "something" that is going on?

Francis said...

Fr. Ray,

One of the many, many issues here is that, in the German-speaking countries, part of your tax is automatically paid to the church to which you officially belong -- unless you decide otherwise. This tax support is very lucrative and gives the Catholic Church in places like Germany and Austria a level of financial resources that Catholics in other countries can only dream of. It is the modern equivalent of the medieval tithe.

In Germany, for example, a person is registered with the government as "Catholic" or "Evangelical" (i.e. Lutheran) for tax and other official purposes. People can change their official religious affiliation and opt out of paying the "Church Tax." It means going through a process of form-flling and making a signed declaration that you have left your former denomination.

This is why you often hear of a flurry of people "leaving the Church" whenever there is a controversy and Catholics (mainly of the liberal protestant tendency or people who have already lapsed) are up in arms about something. And German-speakers who "leave the Church" deprive it of a lot of money when their Church Tax is re-allocated.

This creates a very unhealthy situation in which the Catholic Church is a prisoner of liberal public opinion because it needs (or thinks it needs) the money. If you look at how the German bishops have been expressing ritual outrage over the Williamson affair, and how the Austrian bishops are now writing open letters to Rome and trying desperately to curry favour, it's easier to make sense of things when you think of all those tax Euros disappearing.

Sadie Vacantist said...

Henry ~ do you seriously think that Vatican II is that important? Most Catholics haven't clue what it is about? As for non-Catholics ...

Post-war Europe is in unchartered territory. For the first time in history it has no superpower. In1938 4 superpowers met at Munich by 1945 their superpower status was gone together with all their empires (they were about to lose them in the case of France & UK). Alarmingly, its fate was now decided by 2 new superpowers to the East and West. Within 17 years J23 called the Council. A man elected on the 11th ballot called this suprise council within months of being elected.

The background to this Council was unprecedented given the political situation in the World. The backgound situation has dwarfed the Council ever since. Frankly it never stood a chance. The Cuban missile crisis was the warning shot but the Council fathers persisted driven by European hubris.

Europeans are just too arrogant to be left in charge of a Vatican council. As far as the USA is concerned we were too arrogant to be left in charge of ourselves and have stationed troops here ever since the end of the war.

Henry said...

Sadie, I am disappointed. When you referred to a "something" I thought you were going to give us an interesting revelation like the bishops were in the pay of a beast with horns and a spiked tail.

Sadie Vacantist said...

Henry ~ you can attack the bishops if you wish but the situation is complex:

In Germany there is a similar to mood to 1932. Nobody is going to Mass and an unholy alliance of lapsed Catholics, cultural Lutherans (i.e. the 2/3 majority) and aggressive secularists are ganging up on and, intimidating the remnant Church. The difference is, there is not (yet) economic devastation plus no Jewish community to intimidate also. There is even a eugenics movement already in place (it was not a 3rd Reich innovation) as there was in 1932 to which the government turns a blind eye i.e. euthanasia and abortion.

The endgame of the majority of Germans today is 1) to continue to accept the Allied interpretation of the Holocaust imposed upon them for fear of the Americans NOT because they believe it - just like Williamson DOESN'T believe it 2) to deflect the blame for the Holocaust (which many don't believe in anyway) as much as possible on to Catholics e.g wasn't Hitler Catholic?

The current Catholic hierarchy fear that they will be persecuted if they in any way associate themselves with Williamson and the SSPX and thus "feed" the majority's blame game. They don't want to become scapegoats for the Holocaust which the majority of Germans constantly seek. The reason why the majority still look for a scapegoat after all these years is open to interpretation and now you CAN bring in the devil here depending on your opinions. Williamson, as you know, has expressed his.

Until such point as the USA reexams the events of the last 70 years (there are many in America who think like Williamson and supported Ron Paul in the last US presidential), the Catholic church in Germany will live in constant fear of the non-Catholic majority and their intimidatory tactics.

Red Maria said...

Sadie Vacantist, I find your third paragraph utterly baffling. What on earth do you mean by the Allied interpretation of the Holocaust? Is that what you call the considered opinion of every single reputable historian of Nazi Germany and the Second World War, the testimony of Holocaust survivors not to mention Nazi camp guards themselves and the fact that 6 million Jews just happened to have disappeared from the records, from demographic projections and off the face of the earth? And furthermore, how has what you refer to as the Allied interpretation of the Holocaust been imposed on the Germans for fear of the Americans?

And while we're about it, who are the "many" who don't believe in the Holocaust? It's not an article of faith, it's a matter of FACT. Those who do not accept the fact of the Holocaust are either crazy or nasty.