Cardinal Schonborn’s “Rebuke”.

When Cardinal Schonborn of Vienna recently met with Pope Benedict, together with Cardinals Bertone and Sodano, it was widely reported as a papal “rebuke” for his earlier outspoken criticism of Cardinal Sodano. My interest was that this “rebuke”, if that is what it was, appeared not to include any references to the remarks Schonborn had made in the same press conference calling a rethink  of some issues in Catholic moral theology. He suggests, you may recall, that it was time for the Church to consider the quality of homosexual relationships, rather than the existing obsession with homosexual “acts”, and suggest that in a world where so many couples are not interested in marrying at all, we should look more sympathetically at those who want to remarry after divorce.

I was fascinated then by two features of a story at, which examines the MSM (mainstream media)  reporting on this meeting, which Daniel Klimek compares with the text of the official news release, which he quotes in full. As he points out, this text does not in any way constitute a “rebuke”, and still less does it support the impression given that Schonborn had been “summoned” to Rome for a dressing-down. Instead, the text states that Schonborn himself had requested the meeting to “clarify” some matters of misreporting of his original remarks about Cardinal Schonborn, and the former Archbishop of Vienna, Bishop Groer. Read the rest of this entry »

Abuse & Celibacy: Austrian Cardinal Opens the Can of Worms (UPDATED)

As the problems of sexual abuse within the Church continue to cascade across Europe, The Cardinal Archbishop of Vienna has called on the Church to investigate fully the causes of the problem, including the role of celibacy and methods of priestly training.  This is should be welcomed with enthusiasm:  observers and analysts outside the Church establishment have for years been producing convincing evidence that these are two of the crucial issues behind the creation of the enabling environment, evidence which most bishops have simply ignored.   In an odd sequel, though, Cardinal Schonborn later issued a “clarifying” statement that he was not calling into question the Vatican stance on compulsory celibacy.  In doing so, he brings into sharp focus the third of the factors widely believed to be behind that enabling environment:  excessive central control and abuse of power. For there is little point in “investigating” the causes if you rule out in advance certain conclusions that  might follow, or fail to act on the conclusions you might reach, but the Cardinal knows full well that an unfavourable conclusion on celibacy will be totally unacceptable to the Vatican – and so threatening to his own position.  It is not at all accidental that Bishop Geoffrey Robinson, through his extensive work with the Australian problems with abuse, reached the firm conclusion that celibacy was indeed central to the issue – but waited until his retirement before publishing those conclusions.

Cardinal Shonborn - under his watchful eye.

Still, every little step forward is welcome.  The institutional response is clearly “evolving”, and will evolve a lot further before this is over. Read the rest of this entry »