Austrian bishops in Rome – not an ad limina

Every 5 years the bishops of a region are to make a pilgrimage "to the threshold of the apostles", their ad limina apostolorum visit.  They meet with officials of curial offices and with the Pope to discuss matters pertaining to their dioceses and their regions.

The bishops of Austria met with the Pope. 

It was not an ad limina.

The Church in Austria was faithful to the Catholic Faith and Rome for so long in the face of theological revolt.  Now, sadly, they are showing signs of deep problems.

UPDATE: 1951 GMT:

Andrea Tornielli has more in Italian.

Oggi e domani si tiene nella Sala Bologna in Vaticano l’incontro dei vescovi austriaci, guidati dal cardinale Cristoph Schoenborn, con Benedetto XVI. La convocazione è stata provocata dai recenti avvenimenti che hanno messo in subbuglio la Chiesa d’Austria, a cominciare dall’incredibile vicenda del vescovo ausiliare di Linz, Gehrard Wagner, nominato dal Papa secondo le regolari procedure della Congregazione dei vescovi. Wagner, di impostazione piuttosto tradizionalista, doveva affiancare il vescovo titolare della diocesi che aveva (ed ha) notevoli problemi di governo. Una campagna di stampa e soprattutto la reazione di alcuni confratelli dell’episcopato hanno portato – e quasi costretto – Wagner alle dimissioni prima della consacrazione. In Austria si sono verificati alcuni gravi abusi liturgici e hanno fatto scalpore i casi di alcuni preti piuttosto noti e incaricati di ruoli importanti (anche nella stessa diocesi di Linz)  ["grave liturgical abuses and some rather well-known priests with important roles and positions have caused a stirr"] che hanno ammesso di vivere da anni insieme a una compagna. Oggi il Papa ha ascoltato. Domani parlerà. [Today the Pope listened.  Tomorrow he will speak.] All’incontro sono presenti il Prefetto dei vescovi Giovanni Battista Re, quello del clero, Claudio Hummes, e il nunzio apostolico a Vienna.

Sounds serious!

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34 Responses to Austrian bishops in Rome – not an ad limina

  1. TJM says:

    Rather inexplicable to those of us outside of Austria who admire their magnificent Churches and historical contribution to the Church’s
    sacred music patrimony. If we have someone here who could shed light on the problems there it would be helpful. Tom

  2. Paul says:

    TJM, This is a good place to start.
    http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/new.php?n=15097

    My theology professor is a European ordained priest who after ordination was sent to Austria of all places on mission. Mission.

    The faith is being assaulted by activist priests and outright dissenters.

  3. Thomas Gillespie says:

    I was visiting relations in a Vienna suburb and assisted at Mass at a local parish, and during the communion rite I noticed that people came up, plucked a consecrated host from a large pan and intincted it themselves in a large goblet of the precious blood, and then consumed it. I was a bit shocked. I’d never seen self-intinction by lay people and knew something was wrong. Furthermore, there were no patens used to keep drops of the sacred blood from falling to the floor. All in all, it was a very sloppy business.

    I wrote the pastor and Cardinal Schonborn about the practice (in my halting German), but got no reply.

  4. Mickey says:

    Interesting…I had exactly the opposite experience in Vienna and Munich.

    I went to Holy Mass on Sunday morning at Stephansdom (St Stephen’s Cathedral) in near Stephansplatz downtown, and found the celebration of the Holy Mass to be “unremarkable”, that is, even though it was in German, I easily followed along and noticed nothing “out of the ordinary.” Seemed very much “Black / Red” to me. I was even permitted to kneel at the altar rail to receive our Lord.

    In Munich at the Hielig Geist Kirsch (Holy Spirit church) near Marianplatz, I attend Vespers and Holy Mass on a Friday night…around 50 people there for a 6pm on a Friday night. What’s more, the Holy Mass was in the Ordinary Form celebrated…wait for it…ad orientem!

    Two anecdotes I pray give others hope for the Church in “Germania”.

  5. Martin_B says:

    Don’t ever mix Germany (espeacily Bavaria) with Austria, as near as they may seem.

    And the problem is not the whole of Austria, but espeacily the diocese of LINZ.
    Just have a look at this picture http://www.kathtube.com/player.php?id=10678 from the central liturgy of Corpus Christi in the town of linz.

    The priest holding up the “modern monstrance” (Copyright by the diocese of linz) is the dean of this region. Maybe you remember the “council of deans” that opposed the nomination of a true catholic auxiliar bishop this year?

  6. TJM says:

    The person with the “monstrance” on kathube – it’s a joke, right? Tom

  7. viennaguy says:

    I live in Vienna at the moment and am able to attend DAILY extraordinary form Masses about a minute’s walk from Stephansdom. God bless the FSSP.

    Mickey: I have attended many masses in Stephansdom and I’m afraid it is anything but black and red, though most people kneel.

    Surprisingly, the church that is least faithful to the rubrics is the Kapuzinerkirche. The monks NEVER stick to the text, it’s incredible.
    But thankfully, this is the same church the FSSP operates in, so it’s balanced out lol.

  8. Matt Q says:

    Makes one wonder. Did they go on their own to complain or were they **summoned***? Well, either way, I doubt anything will come of it. Given the Church’s past record on performance issues, the issues are still ongoing. The bishops will complain, the Holy Father will point his finger, then it will all be back to business as usual.

  9. LCB says:

    Just when I think I’ve seen it all in terms of liturgical abuse… Martin_B links to that photo. Wow. Just… wow.

    And the flat hand with an eye in the center is an ancient pagan symbol, but I don’t think that there was enough intelligence involved with that abuse to intentionally be pagan.

  10. Uhh…re that photo linked: that is a MONSTRANCE? It’s a monstrancity! That looks like pita bread on a pike.

  11. Prof. Basto says:

    Matt Q,

    convocazione means summons. So they were summoned.

  12. Nathan says:

    This conjures up the image of the Holy Father in the room speaking very seriously with the Austrian bishops, almost reading them the riot act. For those with Curial connections and experience, does that ever actually happen?

    In Christ,

  13. Joseph says:

    when one considers the long line of abuses permitted under reign of Archbishop Cardinal Schoenborn and his chums, one hopes the whole bunch of them hand in their resignation.

  14. Anne Gomes says:

    We lived in Vienna for 4 years. They are very tolerant. They tolerate traditional, EF Masses, masses in English, Spanish, French, Russian, Tagalog and probably other languages. They also tolerate clowns, dancing, that thing with the pita bread, priests living with their girl friends (everybody does it), prostitution, abortion, homosexuality. Most people do not take religion of any kind seriously and are incredulous when you do. They really think you are a strange duck. I knelt during the consecration and they thought it was quaint. Some village churches I went to were pretty serious and faithful, but most just are not. The vast majority of people are registered Catholic, but only so they can get married and buried in the Church. I never saw any attempt at all to discourage any kind of individuality because they are very tolerant. As an aside,after living there 4 years, I could understand Bavarians pretty well and could spot them and their accent anywhere. It is not a welcomed thing, so this meeting, which might be in German, should be very interesting. I bet the Austrian Bishops don’t say anything because they are very tolerant, but they won’t change either. They do need missions. There are people who want to be faithful, it is just very hard. AnneG in NC

  15. JML says:

    Monstrance of metal
    With warm woolen mitten
    Vessels of plastic
    And host made of leaven

    Picnicing baskets on altars most high
    These are the things that make me cry.

    When they’re dancing
    When they’re standing
    When I’m feeling sad

    I simply remember what Father Z said
    And Say the Black
    And Do the Red!

    With deepest apologies to Rogers and Hammerstein.

  16. Mitchell NY says:

    Don’t these Priests who do such things (as that which appear in the photo link) think that although many, many people would never dare approach a Priest to question their bizarre practices, that it is not for the best of the Church or the laity. Most people would leave the parish or grudgingly stay quiet, but it is scandalous and hurtful to the majority of the people. Don’t they care? It makes me think there is truly an agenda to destroy the faith and any sense of tradition. Not to mention apolostolic roots and centuries old true organic development.

  17. BLC says:

    JML, that was brilliant!

  18. Hugh says:

    Papa B, just unlock that Ecclesiastical Prison somewhere below the Vatican (or maybe take out a short lease the Mamertine – for old times’ sake), stock it with some rats from your local pet shop, and throw them in there for a couple of months to think things over.

  19. Maureen says:

    Hugh — You phrased that wrong. You tell your vict… guests that they are going to spend some quiet time with the earth and get closer to animals and nature.

  20. Ottaviani says:

    It’s time like this that I do NOT envy the pope’s job. God help him clean up the mess because no one else can.

  21. Tantumergo says:

    I feel so sorry for Our Lord. How would YOU like to be stuck in something that looks like a Mr. Potato-head on a stick, sticking it’s tongue out?!!

  22. JPG says:

    In all seriousness what can the Pope do?
    What penalties can he impose?
    My uneducated inclination would be to sack the lot of bishops and start over.
    It would be a public reprimand in a major way risking alienating a nation albeit one that is not so much falling from grace but actively embracing the other side. I would be nasty as pope. I would have denied the priests request he not be made bishop and replaced Schonbern. I seem to recall some entanglement or arrangement with the Austrian State by which the State collects a tax for the Church.
    Would a harsh action on the part of the Holy See only provoke greater rebellion and reprisals on the part of the secular authorities?
    On the other hand I think the kind words and soft reprimands need now to be follwed by a large stick one preferably with a large knobby end.
    JPG

  23. michigancatholic says:

    Martin_B,
    Interesting surfing through that picture gallery. They have about 10 times the artwork we do but about 1/10th the sense, it appears.

  24. Wanda says:

    The number one law of the Church is the salvation of souls. The scandal these priests and bishops have given must be addressed decisively and now. If there are no consequences for the heresies, insults, rebelliousness and mockery of the Faith that we have witnessed over the years, not only will souls be lost but the burden of guilt will on he who has the authority to punish the offenders. Faithful Catholics need to see justice applied by the Holy Father. This is just one instance in a long line of abuses around the world. Pray very much for the Holy Father.

  25. Bob K. says:

    Quote:
    “In all seriousness what can the Pope do?
    What penalties can he impose?
    My uneducated inclination would be to sack the lot of bishops and start over.
    It would be a public reprimand in a major way risking alienating a nation albeit one that is not so much falling from grace but actively embracing the other side. I would be nasty as pope. I would have denied the priests request he not be made bishop and replaced Schonbern. I seem to recall some entanglement or arrangement with the Austrian State by which the State collects a tax for the Church.
    Would a harsh action on the part of the Holy See only provoke greater rebellion and reprisals on the part of the secular authorities?
    On the other hand I think the kind words and soft reprimands need now to be follwed by a large stick one preferably with a large knobby end.”

    Probably nothing will happen. Just like nothing happened to Fr John Jenkin’s and ND. Will be allot of advice from the Pope. The Bishops will go back, and continue where they left off. This isn’t pre-Vatican 2 Rome were talking about here. And guess what. Here is the kicker. According to canon law, these Masses are equally as sacred and valid as the Extra-Ordinary Form. You can’t deny it!. If you do your in Schism. Two forms of the same Latin Rite. Really!!!!!!!!!!.

  26. John says:

    This is a serious situation.

    Did the Austrian bishops think that they could poke the pope in the eye and get away with it? They publicaly piled it on re: the Wagner Situation. This was on the heels of the lifting of the excommunication of the SSPX.

    The pope did not call them to the Vatican for tea and crumpets.
    .
    I do believe that the pope is very displeased. He will take them to task.

  27. Bob K. says:

    Like I said in a previous post. Nothing is probably going to happen. They will get advice and go on their way to repeat the same thing. So yes they will get away with it!!.

  28. Bob K. says:

    By looking at those videos of their Diocese. Do you really think they respect authority, even the Pope’s?. Yes this is serious!.

  29. Martin_B says:

    In a german forum someone (a priest ?) commented, that these pictures have found their way to the congregation of divine worship and that “vesuv eruption” would be the best way to describe the situation over there.

  30. Father Z, could you begin petitioning for bringing back one of the most wonderful and useful rites the Church has ever invented: the auto da fé?

  31. Mickey says:

    Viennaguy: thanks…I suppose my German is not as good as I thought. Or perhaps the Holy Mass at the time we went was more orthodox than usual?

    And the photo…”ye gods and little fishes” as my dear late mother would’ve said. Where do we get these people and why do they think they’re Catholic?

  32. Bob K. says:

    From Rorate Caeli

    Tuesday, June 16, 2009
    Declaration

    On June 15 and 16, a meeting was held in the Vatican between the Holy Father and heads of Dicasteries of the Roman Curia, and the following Austrian Bishops: Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, Archbishop of Vienna, President of the Austrian Episcopal Conference; Archbishop Alois Kothgasser, Archbishop of Salzburg; Bishop Egon Kapellari, Bishop of Graz-Seckau, Vice-President of the Austrian Episcopal Conference; Bishop Ludwig Schwarz, Bishop of Linz. Also attending was: Archbishop Peter Stephan Zurbriggen, Apostolic Nuncio to Austria.

    From the Roman Curia, the following were in attendance: Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops; Cardinal William Joseph Levada, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; Cardinal Claudio Hummes, Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy; Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education; Cardinal Stanis?aw Ry?ko, President of the Pontifical Council for the Laity.

    At the meeting, genuine collegiality was acknowledged and, in fraternal dialogue and constructive spirit, some topics related to the situation of the Diocese of Linz and the Church in Austria were discussed, and solutions for current problems were addressed.

    The Holy Father recalled the urgency of deepening the faith, of full fidelity to the Second Vatican Council and to the post-conciliar Magisterium of the Church [nachkonziliaren Lehramt der Kirche], and the renewal of catechesis in light of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

    Moreover, doctrinal and pastoral issues and issues pertaining to the situation of the clergy, the laity, the seminaries, and the theological schools in Linz and in other dioceses in Austria were discussed.

    AND

    The unstoppable Cardinal of Vienna
    During his visit to the Vatican with a delegation of Austrian Bishops in the past two days, the Cardinal Archbishop of Vienna delivered a message from his flock, as Italian news agency ASCA reports:

    In the Vatican, Card. Schönborn also presented the so-called “Initiative of the lay faithful” (Laieninitiative), a petition by relevant Austrian Catholics launched earlier this year, which asks for the abolition of compulsory celibacy, the return to activity of married priests, the opening of the diaconate to women, and the ordination of [married] ‘viri probati’.

    I told you nothing would happen!!.

  33. Navin K says:

    “The Holy Father recalled the urgency of deepening the faith…”

    The church in Austria needs to deepen its faith; they will, then, see why the Magisterium is correct about the issues they have raised.

    We wait and pray for the day they will realise and accept the wisdom of the magisterium. Any action to “discipline” the church will only produce more secular media coverage and no results.

  34. Joseph says:

    I’ve been in Austria for six years, and since last year am a seminarian in Vienna. Yes, there are big differences among the Austrian dioceses, with Linz being by far the most liberal being. There is also a difference in the diocese of Vienna between the city and the country. Certain abuses such as self-intinction of the Eucharist are more wide-spread in the country than in the city.

    Schönborn did present the Lay Initiative to the pope. He also, two days ago, on the feast of the Sacred Heart, when he ordained six men to the priesthood, stated his own conviction that only a Council would have the authority to change the Chruch’s discipline of celibacy.

    “The Church in Austria was faithful to the Catholic Faith and Rome for so long in the face of theological revolt.”

    Well… the theological problems in Austria go back some decades, at any rate. The Austrian (and German) bishops balked in the face of negative reaction to Humanae Vitae, and did not show such great fidelity to Rome. The theological faculties also have problems accepting the doctrine of papal infallibility. In Linz I’ve heard of many professors denying the historical, physical reality of Christ’s resurrection, holding to some Bultmannian interpretation of it.