Head of Austrian “We Are Church” Excommunicated

Here is something that the Fishwrap won’t be happy to report.

German sources report that Pope Francis, the first Pope who ever smiled, the first Pope who ever kissed a baby, the first Pope since … well, some nice Pope who has been nice… has excommunicated the head of the dissident group We Are Church in Austria.

HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE.

In fact, the they incurred the excommunication automatically, by having committed that sin, and the censure was confirmed by a decree of the local Bishop of Innsbruck.

Martha Heizer and her partner, Gert, pretended to say Mass.  Don’t attempt this at home.  Simulation of the Eucharist, Mass, is a serious sin that incurs an excommunication.

The couple “rejected” the excommunication when the local bishop tried to deliver the decree.  That showed those Vatican meanies!

While the news reports are saying that Pope Francis excommunicated them, which isn’t the case, the couple said they were going to simulate a Mass some time ago, HERE, which means that the CDF would have been informed.  Since there was a plan announced in advance to do this, the local bishop would have informed and consulted with the CDF.  In turn, that means – more than likely – that, during one of Card. Müller’s regular meetings with the Pope, the Holy Father was briefly consulted about his will in the matter.

If the Pope didn’t excommunicate the public sinners, he surely gave his nod to the decree from the local bishop.

Let us pray that these penalties will bring about a change of heart and mind.

That said, Australian former-Father Greg Reynolds is still excommunicated.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. seattle_cdn says:

    Simulating the Eucharist is different from little kids playing mass, yes?

    [Of course it is.]

  2. JustaSinner says:

    WOW, that I didn’t know…we ‘played’ Mass all the time as kids. Never had a girl priest though, THAT didn’t seem right!

  3. acricketchirps says:

    Different from acting out a Mass in a play or movies too, even with a lady priest.

  4. LeeF says:

    Over at Fishwrap:

    “New day dawning for women priests 20 years after ‘Ordinatio Sacerdotalis’ ”
    ” “I am becoming a priest because God asked,” Smyth said. “God’s inclusive love cannot be expressed or shared from a strictly male point of view. That was not the message of Jesus. My love is hospice ministry, and I will be expanding into bereavement work and healing modalities such as Reiki.”

    As the women are ordained, communities rise up around them.”

    What these women, and other persons fail to understand, is that our vocations in life, and especially religious vocations, are confirmed by the Church, i.e. the real Church in conformity with the Magisterium. Otherwise it is only a delusional self-calling.

    Re the communities “rising up around them”, I wish the Fishwrap crowd would just leave and go there and leave us in peace as we will then leave them, just as we do the (other) Protestants. Of course then they would be just more Protestants and not the “progressive” darlings of the atheistic mainstream media.

  5. Traductora says:

    Promising. The one issue the Pope seems to be pretty strongly against, oddly enough, is “ordination” of women. I put it in quotes because you really can’t do it.

  6. OrthodoxChick says:

    I think simulating Mass means taking it to a higher level than child’s play. I asked this question before and Father answered it. He’s answered it a few times now. As I understand it, simulating Mass means conducting oneself in such a manner that one believes he/she has actually consecrated a host, when said person has not been validly ordained and lacks any faculties to do so. Doing this in public must take it to another level, I would think, since one is then perpetrating a deception not only against oneself, but also among some sort of “congregation”.

  7. Joseph-Mary says:

    Amazing. And here I thought only the faithful traditional leaning folks were in disfavor… It surely takes a LOT to be excommunicated….considering all those who give public scandal and all.

  8. HyacinthClare says:

    After all the other grim news, I’ll take good news when I get it.

  9. Suburbanbanshee says:

    The Latin “simulare” can mean “to simulate,” but it mostly means “to dissimulate.” In this case, “simulate” means you’re trying to dissimulate, to trick people into believing you’re saying a Mass.

  10. cheyan says:

    OrthodoxChick: Right – an actor could portray a priest and thus literally pretend to say Mass, because no one is deceived that the actor is actually saying Mass. (Even a woman could do so – perhaps in the first act of a movie about a womanpriest returning to the Church?)

    Kids are pretty smart: they know they’re not really making dinner when they use a play kitchen, or really practicing medicine when they use a toy doctor’s bag, or really saying Mass when they set up a pretend altar. It takes an adult to be that oblivious.

  11. majuscule says:

    Some of the linked news article are in German.

    I didn’t know that “Heizer” translates to “heater” via a Google™.

    “Excommunicated heater, scouring disappointed”

    And then there are references to “the couple heater”…

    Gotta love Google™ translate!

  12. RobS says:

    cheyan: Kids are pretty smart: they know they’re not really … saying Mass when they set up a pretend altar. It takes an adult to be that oblivious.

    Isn’t that the sad truth. Sigh.

  13. LeeF says:

    In one of the German links a fellow dissenter said that the spirit of Francis had not yet arrived in the curia, and that processes of the time before his election were continued. Even if the pope did not personally approve the announcement of the excommunication which was automatically incurred, it seems unlikely in the extreme that he does not approve.

    Most of the Fishwrap crowd here and in Europe are in the denial stage acting like some faction is making these moves at cross purposes to the pope. What they don’t realize is how extreme their own actions and beliefs are.

    If these folks want to be Protestants there are plenty of denominations to choose from. As long as the (any) pope is Catholic, their beliefs will find no home in the Church. When they finally reach the acceptance stage of their grieving process they can move on down the road where they can consciously evolve.

  14. aviva meriam says:

    One group down, how many more to go?

  15. Peasant of the Garonne says:

    “Can. 1378
    §2 The following incur a latae sententiae interdict or, if a cleric, a latae sententiae suspension:
    1° a person who, not being an ordained priest, attempts to celebrate Mass.”
    Is this the correct canon? There’s also the issue of “graviora delicta.”

  16. Bosco says:

    Is Pope Francis starting with all things “A”, i.e. Australia, Austrian, etc. until he gets to “Z”?

  17. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    “…Pope Francis, the first Pope who ever smiled, the first Pope who ever kissed a baby…” You are being bad again, Pater.

    As for the questions about kiddy mass and simulation….seriously? SERIOUSLY? SER.I.OUS.LY? :)

  18. mikeinmo says:

    This reminds me of an old commercial, where some trick or risky behavior is being shown, and the narrator warns us, “Do not try this at home.” There is also another old commercial where the narrator is selling a painkilling tablet and says, “I am not a doctor, but I play one of TV.” Today’s updated version is “I am not a priest, and I can never be a priest, but I think I am a priest, so you better agree with me that I am a priest, or else.”

  19. Massachusetts Catholic says:

    “We Are Church” is an umbrella group, similar to the LCWR. The members of the We Are Church in the United States are the Usual Suspects:
    American Catholic Council, Call To Action, Catholics Speak Out, CORPUS, DignityUSA, Federation of Christian Ministries/Roman Catholic Faith Community Council, FutureChurch, Pax Christi/Maine, SEPA/Women’s Ordination Conference, and the Women’s Ordination Conference.
    (I’m surprised Voice of the Faithful missed this boat. Maybe they didn’t get the memo.)

  20. Imrahil says:

    Dear excalibur,


    In addition, I’m rather shocked that a true, but at least by comparsion certainly more difficult-to-prove proposition – that homosexual sex is wrong – finds in either case stillmore supporters than the obvious truism that there can of course not be any such thing as a same-sex marriage.

  21. Gaetano says:

    I shall prayer for her soul.

    The stories typically stir comments about how the “Vatican” will excommunicate these people, but not priest abusers. I refer to statements like those as violations of the “St. Godwin’s Law” (actual saint, BTW). [FYI: Godwin’s Law (or Godwin’s Rule of Nazi Analogies) is an Internet adage asserting that “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1]

    Sadly they don’t understand that communication is simply the wrong penalty for abusers.

  22. Per Signum Crucis says:

    Dr. Peters,

    Re. the questions, there’s no harm in checking. After all, I’m not sure if the children who occasionally feature in pictures on this very site whilst dressed as Popes aren’t actually the Holy Father’s Secret Teenage Ninja Excommunication Squad… :-/

  23. danidunn says:

    “Is Pope Francis starting with all things “A”, i.e. Australia, Austrian, etc. until he gets to “Z”?”

    Does this mean that Fr. Z’s next ordination will be coming later rather than sooner?


  24. AdhucTecumSum says:

    This headline from the Tiroler Tageszeitung sums up their viewpoint pretty well: „Mangelnde Dialogbereitschaft schlimmer als Exkommunikation“ (“Lack of Willingness for Dialogue [on the part of the Vatican] Worse than Excommunication”).

    In the video interview attached to that article (link here), Martha Heizer briefly compares their situation to that of the LCWR as examples of groups suffering similar treatment from the Vatican hierarchy because Francis has not had enough time to change things and is being held up (“negiert“) by rigid, outdated canon law.

    It’s all rather sad really and definitely worthy of prayer.

  25. rcg says:

    So does the Pope do this again? Or does he expect other bishops, e.g. Of Cincinnati, to follow the example?

  26. Chon says:

    My French is rotten, but she seems to be saying she is profoundly shocked to find herself in the same category as pedophile priests.

    I’m not sure what the second sentence says…

    Ce jeudi matin, elle explique dans un communiqué (en allemand) être “profondément choquée de se retrouver dans la même catégorie que les prêtres pédophiles”. A ses yeux, “cette procédure montre à quel point l’Eglise catholique a besoin de renouveau”.

  27. FranzJosf says:

    This pope is interesting. On the one hand you have the Bishop of Rome bowing and asking a blessing from the crowd (“pastoral openess”); on the other you have him doing exactly as he wants (“footwashing autocrat”) He’s obviously read his Dante and Shakespeare, i.e., he has a keen understanding of human nature. So, what is he about. I dunno yet, but it sure as heck is interesting

    On my (our) side:
    1. He believes in the Devil as the source of evil.
    2. He says that the question of woman’s ordination has been settled.
    3. He recently notes that Ecumenism doesn’t trump Evangelisation. In other words, we may say boldly that Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life. (To me, it seems as if he has said it more unequivocally, ad extra, than even Benedict or JP)
    4. The visitation of certain American sisters is going forth without hindrance.

    On the other side:
    1. Cardinal Kaspar.
    2. Celibacy in the Latin Rite.
    3. Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate.

    (Neither list is exhaustive, merely off the top of my head.)

    Interestingly, on the “Our Side” there seems to be no retreat possible; on the “Other side” there has been no definitive decision.

    Both sides are in full cry in ways they haven’t been ever, not in quite this way.. Did he not foresee that they would be? Is he that naive? I dunno, but I don’t think so. During Pius XII the Bugnini camp got there nose under the tent with Holy Week and the ’62 Missal. John XXIII called the Council, but I think that it would have had a far different outcome had he lived. With Paul VI the left were driving all the chariots running over any who would protest. With JP!! the brakes were put on. Benedict’s short reign was a minor battle with out side winning. Now both sides are in full cry. Interesting times.

  28. FranzJosf says:

    Maybe I spoke too soon. Magister reports that an Argentinian “conservative” has just been named to a new position at the Holy Office. Magister’s take: the promotion has gotten him ‘out of the way’ because the liberals didn’t like him and that he has less influence in Rome than he did as a pesky conservative Ordinary amongst the Argentine bishops. Again, interesting times.

  29. Magash says:

    They said the same thing about Cardinal Burke. Somehow his “promotion” to Rome didn’t silence his support for orthodox Catholic positions in the United States. Or reduce his influence among Catholic laity. Not to mention his influence over the whole Church. Even his removal from the Congregation for Bishops has only slightly reduced his influence in Rome, and throughout the Church.

  30. CrimsonCatholic says:

    The sad writers of the fish try to use a red herring on this issue, using the card, “What we did is not wrong, not like those evil child abusing priest”. Will there ever be a day when they don’t play this card?

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  32. ChristendomJoe says:

    What we must always remember is that those censured on the traditionalist side, such as FFI, have not been excommunicated by the Holy Father, whereas he has not hesitated to drop that gravest of penalties on people such as the Heizers and former-Father Greg Reynolds. Pope Francis IS on our side, when it comes down to important things.

  33. Heather F says:

    Here is my rough translation of the French passages:
    “Ce jeudi matin, elle explique dans un communiqué (en allemand) être “profondément choquée de se retrouver dans la même catégorie que les prêtres pédophiles”. A ses yeux, “cette procédure montre à quel point l’Eglise catholique a besoin de renouveau”.”

    “This Thursday morning, she issued a statement (in German) that she is ‘profoundly shocked to find herself in the same category as pedophile priests.’ In her view, ‘this action shows just how much the Catholic Church is in need of renewal.'”

    Which just goes to show that no matter what language they actually say it in, the language of victim-mentality dissenters is pretty much all the same.

  34. Chon says:

    Thanks, Heather.

  35. Supertradmum says:

    Well, we all played Tridentine Mass as that was the only one then. And, as my three brothers had to learn their Latin to be altar boys, I sometimes said the priest parts to help them out. Good grief, we knew we were playing, with Ritz Crackers, lemonade and rosaries on our corduroy robe belts, as we pretended to be monks or in my case, a nun.

    We used little plastic candelabras from my dish set and linen cloths from my great-grandma.

    Never once did I want or even think to be a priest.

    Thank God for this step by the Pope. Can we send him a list, btw?

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