Letters to the Editor: Feb. 2012

The Vienna Review welcomes letters from its readers

We’re happy to be new subscribers to The Vienna Review. As newcomers to the Vienna scene, having arrived in August for a three-year stint at the IAEA, we are especially keen on making the most of our time here and TVR has proved to be an excellent resource for us.

In fact just today I ‘walked the walk’ recommended by Duncan Smith in this month’s issue and explored the Moelker Bastei. Thanks, Duncan!

– Mark Harper,

Re: “Helmut Schüller’s Call to Disobedience” by Laurence Doering, TVR Dec-Jan 2011-12: In my opinion, Mr. Doering’s article gives an authentic impression on the initiative’s [central] issue, pointing out its main requests clearly. Nevertheless there is one conceptual inaccuracy that might be misleading. The term “communion service” doesn’t specify its meaning well enough. Right now, lay people, men and women, are actually allowed to lead liturgies of the word – including preaching – and distributing communion within that service.

Members of the Laity are not allowed to lead the service, if an ordained priest is present. A priest-led “communion service” is rather called the “Celebration of the Eucharist” which includes the act of “consecration of the bread”. Lay-people liturgies of the word with communion-distribution omit the consecration of the bread.

This consecration-act, which can be administered solely by an ordained priest according to the Catholic, Orthodox and Anglican tradition, is the most controversial and crucial issue in the initiative’s request. The question is whether “The Call for Disobedience” not only demands that lay people do “communion services”, which they do already in the sense I described above, but to “Celebrate the Eucharist” with all due effects, or not. Literally the Pfarrer-Initiative declares only that they “will use the term ‘priestless eucharistic celebration’ for a liturgy of the word with distribution of communion”.

– Andreas Hofer SJ,
Rome and Vienna

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