From the National Catholic Reporter, with editorial comment …
“It is fascinating to see how Pope Francis is encouraging, reviving and renewing the church.
Ed: isn’t it just. Hopes having been raised that major changes are afoot in the Catholic Church, it’s a wonder there are any atheists left…
Our meeting with him was an excellent lesson on how to live the Gospel today,” Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna said after a 90-minute audience with the pope during the Austrian bishops’ “ad limina” visit to the Vatican in the last week of January.
Ed: now, anybody who knows anything about Cardinal Schönborn (pictured at a “Balloon Mass”) knows that this “excellent lesson on how to live the Gospel today” would send shudders down the spine of every pope from St Peter through to Pius XII.
The Austrian bishops took the results of the recent Vatican questionnaire to Rome with them. Responses showed that 95 percent of those who had filled out the questionnaire in Austria were in favor of allowing divorced and remarried Catholics to receive the sacraments.
Ed: from the perspective of traditional Christianity, that fact, alone is a damning indictment of the Austrian Bishops, although not from the perspective of those “fascinated” by the latest renewal of the Church under Pope Francis – following the renewals under John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul II and Benedict XVI. Anyone who’s not feeling renewed by now, needs help.
The subject of family relationships today and how the church should deal with them played an important role at the Jan. 30 meeting with the pope, Schönborn said.
Ed: hardly surprising if the 95% dissident responses to the questionnaire represents the majority of Austrian Catholics. If the Austrian faithful haven’t a clue about something as elementary as the indissolubility of marriage, the bishops definitely have work to do.
“We cannot speak about people without speaking about families,” Francis said, explaining that was why the subject of the coming Synod of Bishops in October had been altered from bioethics to the family.
Francis spoke of his experiences in Latin America, where the situation of marriage and the family was, to a certain extent, “far more dramatic” than in Europe, Schönborn said. It is important to realize that today many couples live together without getting married and have children, then later marry in a registry office, with some opting for a church marriage, the pope explained. The church must take this way of life seriously and accompany the couples on their way, Francis underlined. His basic message was “Don’t judge, but look closely and listen very carefully,” Schönborn said.
Ed: so we mustn’t “judge” homosexual couples, and we mustn’t “judge” cohabiting couples. On another occasion Pope Francis spoke sympathetically of people in “second marriages.” There’s a lot of “no judging” going on in these areas of life. But it’s fine to judge and condemn the Franciscans of the Immaculate. Hmmmm. I’m getting the hang of this.
In several interviews shortly before leaving Vienna, Schönborn advocated a more rational, down-to-earth approach toward family relationships. “For the most part, the church approaches the [family] issue unhistorically,” he said. “People have always lived together in various ways. And today, we in the church tacitly live with the fact that the majority of our young people, including those with close ties to the Catholic Church, quite naturally live together. The simple fact is that the environment has changed.”
Ed: odd that. You’d think that Christ would have known that “historically people have always lived together in various ways…” and that in time His Church would learn to “tacitly live with the fact…” so it’s odd that He was so clear about the lifelong nature of marriage. Very odd.
Schönborn “in no way” wanted to advocate changing canon law (Ed: not half) but merely to show how difficult it was to bring the ideal family model into line with reality. “The decisive point is not to condemn the way most people actually live together, but to ask, ‘How do we cope with failure?’ ” he said.
Ed: er… what we don’t do is say “so your marriage has “failed” – no problem. Go and find another one”. The Austrian bishops should issue an apology for their failure, their negligence in permitting the situation to develop whereby promiscuous and cohabiting young people are not even aware that what they are doing is gravely displeasing to God and older “remarried” Catholics don’t appear to care, demanding their “right” to Holy Communion. The clergy and hierarchy need to apologise for their cowardice in failing to proclaim the unpopular truths about sex and its unique relationship to marriage to a disbelieving and sinful world. And if, as seems likely, they fail to proclaim these truths because they don’t believe in the natural law/Catholic sexual morality themselves, then they should do the honourable thing and resign.
While most people’s “wishes, hopes and longings often largely correspond to what the Bible and the church say about marriage and the family” and they longed for a successful relationship and a successful family life, real life told a different story, the cardinal said. “The great challenge is to span a bridge between what we long for and what we succeed in achieving.” It was a case of bringing truth and mercy together, he said.
Ed: absolute tosh. It is a case of bringing sin and repentance together. The Cardinal is really saying: “we uphold the indissolubility of marriage in theory, but in reality, in “real life”, it’s not possible so we should let people do what they want and say nothing; don’t judge them. Be kind to them… As long as they don’t start banging on about the Traditional Latin Mass (in which case they must make an oath of fidelity to the new Mass) there’s no problem. That, in Modernist speak, is “bringing truth and mercy together”.
Schönborn said he regretted that the Austrian bishops haven’t dared to speak out openly on necessary church reforms in the past. They haven’t had the courage to address the need for greater decentralization and to strengthen local churches’ responsibilities, he said. “We were far too hesitant. I beat my own breast here. We certainly lacked the courage to speak out openly.”
Ed: who’s he kidding? Cardinal Schönborn hits the headlines on a fairly regular basis – click here for some background…
The Austrian bishops also discussed with the pope the Austrian Priests’ Initiative, which has called for the ordination of married men and women, and their “Call to Disobedience,” Schönborn said. The pope advised them that the most important thing for bishops is always to be in close contact with their priests, the cardinal said.
Ed: this is just incredible stuff. The Austrian priests’ notorious ‘Call to Disobedience’ was, as its title suggests, a blatant and clearly schismatic break with the Catholic Church. Yet, from the outset, these bad priests were treated with the utmost respect by the Church authorities, right up to and including, as we can see, Pope Francis himself. I refer readers once again to the entirely “non-judgmental” through to indulgent attitude of this Pope towards dissenters and public sinners of every hue, which contrasts starkly with the treatment meted out in the most judgmental way to any priest showing the slightest leaning towards Catholic Tradition, as instanced in the scandalous measures implemented against the thriving Franciscans of the Immaculate. “Truth and mercy”? Yeah right.
Schönborn said he was convinced that far-reaching church reform was on the way, “but it will not be achieved through big words and programs but through people like Pope Francis.” One could already see that the pope has become a role model, Schönborn said. “The atmosphere is changing and his behavior is making itself felt,” he said. What impressed him most about the pope was his charisma. “You can feel his inner devotion to God from which his compassion, his warmth and his infectious sense of humor emanates,” the cardinal said.
Ed: Encouraging sinful behaviour, whether in homosexuals, premarital cohabitees or the divorced and remarried, is anything but compassionate. We don’t need popes who are “warm” and with a “sense of humour”, infectious or otherwise. We need popes to preach the Faith and defend it. Judging from the gleeful reaction of the notoriously dissenting Cardinal Schönborn at the end of his meeting with Pope Francis, we’re in for plenty of warmth and humour to distract our attention from the fact that the Church is crumbling around us. Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us!