The auxilliary dust up in Linz, Austria – dustier still

The indomitable Raphaela has been busy:

Hello again Father,

Another piece from kath.net, hot off the presses. It seems that the bishop of Linz was called to Rome at short notice, presumably to explain himself. The rest of the Austrian bishops’ conference, which collectively threw auxiliary-designate Wagner to the wolves a couple of weeks ago, seems to have had some time to think and is getting worried either about Rome or about the havoc from "progressivist" pressure at grassroots level possibly spreading to their own dioceses, and is expressing approval of the idea of an Apostolic Visitation.  [It’s an old story.  When they start to realize it might strike at them next, they begin to change their tune.  That is, I maintain, what happened back when the CDW restructured ICEL.  The old-ICEL’s Waterloo was the hideous mistranslation of the rites of ordination.  It seems to me that as long as it was just the Mass, well… toleratur.  When it struck at ordination, they had to act.  Eventually, people in positions of power get concerned that they have let things go too far.]

My (rough, hasty) translation follows.

Raphaela

=====

Bishop of Linz summoned to Rome at short notice!

Linz (kath.net)
Peace and quiet seems unlikely to return too soon to the Diocese of Linz. kath.net was able to ascertain that Bishop Ludwig Schwarz traveled to Rome at short notice on Friday. He cancelled the youth catechesis that was scheduled for Friday evening in Linz. Schwarz has an appointment with the Congregation of Bishops in Rome.

After a statement by Gerhard Maria Wagner saying that his resignation was not voluntary, the bishop of Linz now finds himself under considerable pressure. Even some of his Austrian fellow-bishops are now unofficially expressing criticism of the proceedings. A letter from Gerhard Maria Wagner asking the Pope to reverse his appointment as auxiliary bishop has been received by the Congregation of Bishops. Church sources in the Vatican told kath.net that Pope Benedict XVI has assigned top priority to the issue and will deal with it personally. It is not known when the Pope will make a decision. The Friday bulletin of the Vatican Press Office once again made no mention of the Wagner affair.

An increasing number of people within the Vatican itself are speaking quite openly about an Apostolic Visitation for the Diocese of Linz. [!] kath.net was informed by sources within the Austrian Church that several Austrian bishops have already commented favourably on the prospect of an Apostolic Visitation in the Diocese of Linz. Given the crisis in the diocese, Rome is not excluding the possibility that a coadjutor bishop could be nominated.

I think Bishop Martino could be a good man for the good of Apostolic Visitor.

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30 Responses to The auxilliary dust up in Linz, Austria – dustier still

  1. Ann says:

    I read things like this and think to myself: Vatican II revived Trent for the modern world, Pope John Paul the Great laid the foundations for an orthodox spiritual awakening, and now Pope Benedict XVI is taking steady steps to correct the leadership issues.

    We live in interesting times and the elements for a revival are beginning to come together. The spiritual warfare should be really fascinating in the near future and what the next generation will be is ours to form with good catechesis now.

    I find all this extremely exciting and scary–Praise God for the upheaval since he always seems to bring a lot of good out of it. I hope to live to be very old so I can see where it all goes. God rocks!

  2. Matt says:

    Near as I can tell, the current bishop is 68 years old…what good would appointing a coadjutor do?

  3. O'Neill says:

    After a statement by Gerhard Maria Wagner saying that his resignation was not voluntary

    This is interesting for Canon Law makes it clear that a resignation is invalid if motivated out of fear, substantial error or force (Can. 188). It’s patently evident that Fr Wagner, from his own admission, did not want to resign his delegated episcopal see and was forced out by his entrenched opponents, unrelenting progressivistas who are determined not to concede an inch to the Benedictine Reforms.

    I am confident that the Holy See will determine the invalidity of Fr Wagner’s resignation, but even if it doesn’t, the Pope is still under no obligation to accept it. Pope John Paul II fought valiantly against the entrenched liberal establishment in Switzerland to get Father Haas promoted to his See, despite the local popular uproar.

    Futhermore, the Vatican Information Service has still not confirmed this resignation. Ever since he announced his intention to resign his delegated See, the VIS has had time to announce both the resignation of a Berlin auxiliary and his subsequent replacement. The local hierarchy have claimed the Vatican has accepted it but the delay in confirming it gives ample warrant for suspicion.

    Chris Gillibrand runs an excellent blog which has documented some of the worst litugical abuses conceivable. Some of the pictures of Linz are actually quite frightening, not least a shrine dedicated to Judas. An apostolic visitation is clearly needed.
    http://cathcon.blogspot.com/search/label/linz

  4. Tim Ferguson says:

    A coadjutor can be appointed “with special faculties” (c. 403, 3) to oversee certain aspects of the diocese. A coadjutor can be appointed, for example, with full authority over diocesan finances, or priestly formation, or one ethnic group in a diocese, etc.

    Even if he’s not able to succeed to the seat of the diocesan bishop for at least seven years, a coadjutor, especially one with special faculties, could do the diocese some great good.

  5. PMcGrath says:

    Coadjutor? Feh. How about a proper sacking this time, with Msgr. Wagner getting the whole thing? A coadjutor, even one with “special faculties,” means confusion of authority. That’s the last thing a diocese — any diocese — needs, least of all the Diocese of Linz.

  6. Nick says:

    “Pope John Paul the Great laid the foundations for an orthodox spiritual awakening … God rocks!”

    That’s one way to look at it.

  7. I’m all for the deposition, and raising Father Wagner to the See of Linz…

  8. mrteachersir says:

    Father,

    With all due respect, I love my bishop, and I selfishly do not want him to go to Austria, although I do pray for the poor souls there.

  9. Luigi says:

    I agree with Ann in that this is a momentous time in the Church’s history. Our generation will be remembered. How we will be remembered is being written right now. I too think this is an exciting time.

    This whole affair with Msgr Wagner is now far larger than just he; i.e. more is at stake than simply one bishop designate. It seems to me that the Holy See needs to do whatever is necessary to avoid any image of democratization having its day, whether largely on the part of sitting bishops or not. If they are successful in forcing this resignation, it would be viewed as one small step away from a democratization involving the laity a la VOTF. No, it won’t happen, but any sign of weakness from Rome here would seem to needlessly fuel the progressive fire.

  10. TJM says:

    Maybe Archbishop Burke could accompany Bishop Martino! Tom

  11. Antonius says:

    About one year ago, I was talking with a priest I know. During our conversation we went through a couple of German-speaking dioceses and their respective Bishops, since he’s of (southern) German origin and knows some of the clergy, the situation in seminars and so on.
    Him mentioning the diocese of Linz started with sad shaking of the head and saying: “You might as well lock it up and throw away the key. Closing a number of parishes until further notice would be far better than what has been going on there for some time now.”

  12. You cannot send Bishop Martino away. That is just what the left have been hoping and praying for these last few years. And now, since he DARED to do all that we’ve been following the last few weeks, that is what I am hearing most of all – “he has to go”!

    See, when he got here, one of his very first acts was to issue a letter banning certain practices in the Liturgy, and no one took notice. Except the priests of course, who could no longer say Holy Mass in shorts and Hawaiian shirts.

    But then he started looking at our schools. And he closed some.

    And then he told the school’s union to beat it.

    And then he announced the closure of parishes.

    Now he is all over their hero, Little Bobby Casey, and he continues to antagonize the leftists who make up the majority of this Diocese. And they want him gone.

    So strongly I say “Nay” to you, Father, and your ill-advised remark to take Bishop Martino away from us. What are you thinking?

    Unless you wanna come and be our Bishop, that is!

  13. RBrown says:

    A coadjutor can be appointed “with special faculties” (c. 403, 3) to oversee certain aspects of the diocese. A coadjutor can be appointed, for example, with full authority over diocesan finances, or priestly formation, or one ethnic group in a diocese, etc.

    Even if he’s not able to succeed to the seat of the diocesan bishop for at least seven years, a coadjutor, especially one with special faculties, could do the diocese some great good.
    Comment by Tim Ferguson

    Yeah, a coadjutor can be appointed with such authority that the ordinarius loci is little else than a figurehead.

  14. B Knotts says:

    Rockin Traddy:

    I don’t think Fr is talking about sending Bp. Martino away; he’s just proposing him as an apostolic visitor, which is a brief appointment, after which he would return to his see.

  15. RBrown says:

    Coadjutor? Feh. How about a proper sacking this time, with Msgr. Wagner getting the whole thing? A coadjutor, even one with “special faculties,” means confusion of authority.

    Not necessarily. See my comments above.

    That’s the last thing a diocese—any diocese—needs, least of all the Diocese of Linz.
    Comment by PMcGrath

    Having a coadjutor to whom Rome has given most of the power is humiliating for an ordinary not close to retirement age, more humiliating than forcible retirement.

  16. TJM says:

    RBrown, I am no expert on ecclesiastical protocol. However, I think we may have reached the tipping point where His Holiness needs to make
    an example of a Cardinal, Archbishop, or Bishop, who for all intents and purposes, is in open rebellion. I think it would do much good. Otherwise
    we end up with 2500 popes, instead of one. Tom

  17. frv says:

    May the Holy Father, Pope Benedict, show the bishops in Austria who’s in charge by appointing Fr. Wagner as the Coadjutor of the diocese! The “crisis” they have created is no crisis at all if they realize who is the Holy Father and humbly submit to his decisions. Regnat Benedictus XVI!

  18. Erwin says:

    Bishop Ludwig Schwarz of Linz is a kind-hearted and pious man. He just lacks courage to stand up against the progressist majority clergy of his diocese. May God help him

  19. trespinos says:

    I’m sure the Holy Father remembers well the case of Abp. Hunthausen of Seattle, and the controversies that surrounded the special faculties that were granted to Bishop Wuerl, in an attempt to bring Hunthausen’s irregularities under control.

    I’m not aware of any assessment of the success of that action that has ever been made public, by either Papa Woytyla or Papa Ratzinger. (Did Weigel discuss it in his biography? I confess I have yet to read it.)

    I believe most other observers consider that it was at least a partial success. The Archdiocese of Seattle today is certainly not as damaged as it would have been had the Pope not acted. If Linz can be salvaged in a similar fashion, this action should be considered.

  20. Prof. Basto says:

    “…a statement by Gerhard Maria Wagner saying that his resignation was not voluntary…”

    Some points here:

    (a)If Fr. Wagner has declared that the resignation was not voluntary, he is retracting from it, which is within his power, given that, under Canon Law, anyone can desist from a resignation before it is accepted.

    (b) Even if Fr. Wagner hasn’t made a perfect and formal retraction, the fact remains that a resignation that was not voluntary is an invalid act according to the law itself.

    (c) Fr. Wagner’s claim that the resignation was not voluntary needs to be looked into. Saying that the act was involuntary ammounts to saying that there was either physical or moral cohersion. It is a serious matter, that impacts on the validity of the act of resignation that has been submitted to the Pope. Before deciding if he wants to accept the resignation or not, the Pope has logically to ascertain the validity of the resignation presented before him, and now that there is an actual claim that the resignation was involutary (hence invalid), this requires serious consideration and judgement.

    (d) Canon 188 states:

    Can. 188 A resignation made out of grave fear that is inflicted unjustly or out of malice, substantial error, or simony is invalid by the law itself.

    So, if it is ascertained/adjudicated that there was either grave fear unjustly inflicted (moral or physical cohersion, etc), or substantial error, or malice, then the act of resignation must be declared null and void (as it is, if any of those things occured), or at least rejected (amounting to the same practical result without the same scandal).

    (e) anyways, given that Fr. Wagner has declared that the act was not voluntary, but forced upon him, even if the vices of cohersion, error, etc, are not ascertained, one would have to consider wether the intent to resign is still present, and wether the claim that it was involutary amounts to the revokation done by the one resigning under the first part of canon 189 §4: “A resignation can be revoked by the one resigning as long as it has not taken effect…”

  21. Paladin says:

    Tom wrote:

    Maybe Archbishop Burke could accompany Bishop Martino!

    EXACTLY what I was thinking…

  22. DarkKnight says:

    And the retiring commander of the Swiss Guard could accompany the visitation.

  23. Thomas says:

    …And synchronized swimming nuns.

    Damn, I shouldn\’t have typed that. Now I\’m gonna have that Inquisition song in my head all night.

    On a serious note, I don\’t envy the faithful who will have to correct things in Linz. We\’ve all had the shit hit the fan in certain circumstances of our lives and things just spiral out of our control. What on earth do you do when those circumstances involve a diocese of hundreds of thousands or even millions. Things are likely to get worse before they get better. Even successful surgery is a violent act.

  24. Sharon says:

    1. Bishop Ludwig Schwarz of Linz is a kind-hearted and pious man. He just lacks courage to stand up against the progressist majority clergy of his diocese. May God help him.

    Surely one of the qualities of a bishop has to be the ability to guide the priests in the diocese and see that they don’t let the flock be savaged. Kind-hearted and pious is nice but a bishop needs to be more than ‘nice.’ As I trawl the blogs I have lost count of the number of times I have read of a bishop who lets his priests run riot that he is ‘kind hearted and personally pious.’

  25. Marilee says:

    I totally agree with trespinos
    You are absolutely right. But we still need more over-hauling here. Seems that these croonies left behind,have been so busy with social programs that they forgot the mission of the church…. which is the Salvation of Souls… A lot of devotions and Catholic practices have been eliminated in the name of unity/communion.. that the Catholic Church here in this state looks more Protestant than Catholic!
    I hope Pope Benedict XVI gives us a NEW Archbishop who is truly a Shepherd of Christ,a true apostle who is obedient to the Holy Father, the Vicar of Christ on earth and one who truly teaches True Catholic Teachings and not water down these teachings for the sake of funds for social programs or popularity.

  26. John Polhamus says:

    This is politically very interesting indeed. Events tend to balance themselves. The Holy Father last year was understanding with the Chinese State Bishops…and then he was corespondingly understanding with the SSPX. Here he has been firm with +Williamson, and will likely be correspondingly firm with the Bishop of Linz. But after a couple of weeks of NOT dancing to their tune. He gave them plenty of time to realize that his non-response was not out of weakness, and I imagine that every silent day for the last couple of weeks the Bishop of Linz’s realization that he had far overstepped his bounds was looming larger and larger in his mind. Now he is summoned…we shall see. I like the patient but firm methodology.

    God Bless Pope Benedict XVI; Our Lady of Victories intercede for him.

    (Incidentaly, I apologize to all here for my increasingly rancorous discourse the other day. I was out of sorts and very tired. And to ‘boredoftheworld’, please know that my use of the word “boy” was in the sense of “little boy” not a racial slur. I am thankfully untroubled by racial anxieties and resentments, and neither think such thoughts, nor use like language. In any event, I’m sorry if I offended you or anyone here.)

  27. PNP, OP says:

    I worked for several years as the team leader for an adolescent unit in a psych hospital. Our patients were in state custody and were being treated for drug/alcohol abuse and sexual molestation. It was a very violent place with the predictable problems of discipline associated with rebellious teens. One lesson I learned very, very quickly. When dealing with petulant adolescents in the throes of narcissistic defiance, there’s only one productive response: rigidly enforced boundaries with consistently applied punishment for violations. Anything less is seen as weakness and weakness leads to chaos. Now, this is not the way to treat adults with legit complaints or questions. But when adults act like teenagers, it’s the only way to go. I think the Holy Father is being confronted by a case of adolescent defiance in the Linz diocese. It’s high time someone was sent for a well-deserved Time-Out. Fr. Philip, OP

  28. Rose says:

    Mr. Polhamus, I found your posts forceful and blunt (and right on as far as I am concerned), not rancorous. Please keep up your good work of defending the Holy Father.

  29. John Polhamus says:

    You’re very kind, Rose, but I shouldn’t have been so excessively colloquial in calling “boredoftheworld” “boy”. He took it racially, and I didn’t mean it that way. But thank you, I’m just trying to do what one can. We must use our freedom of speech or lose it, and what better way to use it than in defense of the Holy Father. Your support is appreciated.

  30. Patrick says:

    Was this a part of it, i.e., that Monsignor Wagner at one point proffered that God may indeed have been punishing New Orleans with Katrina?

    Can’t say that I disagree – though this is a risky take for a perhaps-to-be bishop to make. Ouch.

    http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/damian_thompson/blog/2009/02/15/monsignor_who_suggested_katrina_was_gods_punishment_will_not_become_bishop_of_linz?com_num=20&com_pg=4