Priests’ revolt: Pope speaks

Austrian News Brief: May 2012

Pope Benedict XVI publicly condemned the “call to disobedience” (Aufruf zum Ungehorsam) issued by Austrian priests last summer, and re-affirmed the ban on women in the priesthood.

Speaking to 3,000 Vatican priests in a sermon on Holy Thursday (5 April) before the Easter weekend, Benedict insisted that Jesus had called for “true obedience”, and that former pope John Paul II had “irrevocably explained that the Church received no authority from the Lord” to ordain women.

Yet Helmut Schüller, the spokesperson of the “Priests’ Initiative” that issued the call to disobedience, told the Austrian Press Agency (APA) that he was “pleasantly surprised” by the Pope’s sermon, as he had “acknowledged that our concern is the future of the Church,” and had made no mention of sanctions.

About 400 Austrian priests – over 10% of the country’s clergy – have signed the “Call to Disobedience”, which demands a greater role for the laity in the Church and the ordination of women and married men, and has inspired similar movements in Belgium, France, and Ireland.

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