This Must Not Stand.

I know I have been doing more serious stuff lately. I regret it in as much as I truly enjoy the silly. But there are serious things going on these days and as I am very interested in these happenings, it is difficult for me not to write about them.

Yesterday I wrote a post about the how crucial might be this moment for the papacy of Benedict XVI. I suggested that with the withdrawal of Fr. Wagner as an Episcopal candidate in Linz Austria, that the enemies of the Pope would sense blood in the water.

It did not take long for that to prove out. The Bishops conference of Austria, shamefully issued the following statement. From Rorate Caeli.
"4. There were problems of communication also in the recent appointment of an auxiliary bishop for the Diocese of Linz. The bishops are aware that Fr Wagner asked the Pope to withdraw the appointment. The theme of Episcopal appointments is therefore important because since the mid-eighties in Austria it has been associated with a number of problems. For many, the controversy over episcopal appointments led to a painful conflict, and they have triggered splits in the church,. It is precisely in this area that sensitivity is most appropriate. There is no question that the Pope is free to appoint bishops. The bishops do not want to go back in time where - as in 1918 - the Emperor alone chose the bishops. Even a 'popular choice' of the bishops would divide the church into parties and conflicts would be inevitable. We bishops are convinced that the procedure provided for in canon law for the selection and the examination of candidates has proved its worth, if this procedure is really followed. Therefore, before the Holy Father takes the final decision, reliable and thoroughly tested basic information must be provided on which he can rely. In Austria in the next few years a number of bishops are to be appointed. The faithful are legitimately concerned that the process of candidate search, examination of the proposals and the final decisions should be carefully undertaken and with pastoral sensitivity are possible. This can ensure that bishops are appointed who are not 'against' but 'for' a local church. We bishops will make every possible effort to support the forthcoming episcopal appointments in the sense of monitoring these procedures in close cooperation with the relevant Vatican offices."
"Trusting in God's help, we will overcome the crisis of recent weeks." [Adapted according to original text]
For those unaccustomed to such language, this is diplomat speak for do what we say or face open revolt. The Bishops of Austria are demanding veto power over this appointment and future appointments to the Episcopacy in Austria. Failure to comply will result in painful conflict and splits in the Church.

This is about as tough as language gets in in defiance of the Pope. These are very serious times. New Catholic of Rorate Caeli opines.
There was no true "crisis", but open revolt against the Pope, inflamed and supported by the shameless Bishops of Austria, first among them the Cardinal-Archbishop of Vienna. If the Pope does not intervene urgently in this case, if a PUBLIC response is not given - since the Bishops of Austria chose to make the matter public - the perception of the authority of the Pope in Europe is finished. The anti-Roman rebellion of the Austrian Bishops is intolerable.
Amen. A clear and decisive response to this open rebellion is required of the Pope at this juncture. Failure to do so may very well telegraph critical weakness to other contumacious Episcopal conferences. The result could be catastrophic.

Some commenters and emailers yesterday suggested I was exaggerating the import of the situation in Austria. I respectfully ask them and everyone else to consider what failure to respond to such open rebellion might mean for the immediate future of the Church.

I agree with Rorate Caeli. Failure at this juncture will mean " the perception of the authority of the Pope in Europe is finished."

This must not stand.


  1. Extremely disturbing, but it looks like the fruits of the Reformation are beginning to ripen, and at the worst possible time.

  2. Patrick,
    Bishops defy the Pope... In other news, dog bites man.

    Are you familiar at all with the institution called the Catholic Church over the past four decades? In case you haven't noticed, at least a third of the bishops in the world are in open rebellion against Rome. What do you think Vatican II was? An unyielding pledge of perpetual fidelity? Is it seriously news to you that bishops would open defy the Pope? Yawn...

    You say that this must not stand? I've got news for you. It stood when they did it to Paul; it stood when they did it to John Paul; it will stand now, unless Benedict decides, in a radical break from his immediate predecessors, to actually take seriously his responsibility, as the successor of Peter, to protect the flock from wolves in sheep's clothing. I wouldn't hold my breath. That would be naïveté of the very worst kind.


  3. Christopher, are you suggesting that the Pope does not take seriously his responsibility "to protect the flock"?
    I think we should intensify our prayers for the Pope instead of giving him advices on what he should do... he knows it much better than me or you.

  4. "contumacious" - great word!

    "I've got news for you. It stood when they did it to Paul..."

    Umm, Paul wasn't a Pope - just saying.

    I don't think Patrick is exaggerating a fine point here. This statement is an in-you-face, throwing down the gauntlet riposte to the Holy Father, a statement that plays into the hands of dissident groups who clamor for the right to elect their own bishops. If the Holy Father's perceived authority in Europe goes the way of the dodo, then it will only be a matter of time for the same to occur here in the states.

  5. The fruits (as it were) of Vatican II.

    -- Mack

  6. They might just as well nailed their demands to the door of the Stephansdom.

  7. Gary Keith ChestertonFebruary 17, 2009 at 8:39 AM

    Paul VI was a pope.

  8. The Pope will wait for a few days and these childish hissy fit heretics will squirm for a little while. What he will do I have no idea. What I do know is that these people are not Catholic. Do you seriously think any self respecting Catholic would wear tye-die and prance around like these demented disorienated balloon lovers. For all poor Catholics of Austria who have had to endure these tutu clad wolves for so long, my earnest sympathy, empathy and prayers are with you.

  9. Dear Pope Benedict XVI

    Have gun. Will travel.

    Your servant,

    Michael Hirsh

    Oh! Did I say that out loud?

  10. Dear Christopher--I've seen a number of your comments on CMR and have been repeatedly surprised by the aggressive and sarcastic tone which undermines your often good message. What's the deal?

  11. I must admit you do have a remarkable talent in analyzing these events.

    Looking back at 2000 years of Church history with all the rebellions from within & persecutions from without, I am not at all perturbed. Maybe this does not square on all fours, but I recall the movie "The Mission" where DeNiro plays a sword wielding Jesuit. The European kings threatened to join the Protestants if the Pope won't order the jungle people to go back into the woods so the slave industry can go on. The Church capitulated. I wonder how things would have been if they had not done so. But I digress. I guess the impact of the current Austrian event does not strike me as dramatically as the issue of slavery. Worst case scenario, Austria forms a national Church with valid but illicit sacraments.

    And with regards questioning the Papal authority, there is nothing new under the sun. Will the Church stand tomorrow - just as surely as the sun will shine.

  12. Send Father Wagner to New York.

    Then clear the Austrian House of its entire legion of Episcopal squaters.

    Then name ALL NEW Bishops for all Austria - pereferably not from Austria. Give Wien a non-german speaker.(This would have the added affect of promoting Latin!)

    Then let the newly-appointed good and holy men of God concern themselves with the Church and with shepherdic acts rather than with secular-modernist trappings of Austrian politics and saber-rattling with the Holy See.

    The "college" of Bishops worldwide would get the message immediately.

    Isn't it rich that, in this time of rapprochement with the SSPX - long critical of "collegialism", collegialism raises its awful head to prove the Society to have been correct all along?

  13. I have read the original text, have asked my mum in Germany what her understanding is, and neither she nor I interpret the text to be open revolt.

    The highlighted quotes from Rorate Caeli
    are either inaccurately or wrongly translated:

    a) "if this procedure is really followed." The word "if" is not necessarily what the German text says. The German original "wenn" can either mean "if" or "when".

    b) this "against but for a local church" is not accurately translated either - I take it to mean that a new bishop needs to be the correct fit for his diocese, knowledgeable and sensitive to the particulars of his new diocese - that section does clearly not indicate open revolt.

    c) "monitoring these procedures..." the German original does not say anything about monitoring at all. What it does say, however, is very encouraging and displays correct behavior: We bishops will do every thing possible to accompany these imminent nominations to the episcopate observing the procedures for such nominations in close cooperation with the responsible Vatican offices.

    And finally, I want to point out something that was not in the Rorate Caeli translations: a section earlier in the original text. This text is a letter to the faithful Catholics of Austria, and in paragraph 2 of this letter the bishops express clearly and explicitly their loyalty and faithfulness to the Holy Father.

    I am sorry, but I do not see any open revolt in the German "Hirtenbrief" - the letter to the faithful Catholics of Austria.

    It is clear, however, that as I said in a previous post our Holy Father is in the middle of spiritual and verbal machine gun fire, and needs our prayers and fasting more than ever.

    Blessings, Mum26

  14. LarryD,
    Either you are totally oblivious, or you are a sedevacantist. I was speaking of Paul VI; that should be obvious to anybody who read the entirety of my post. Obviously, anybody speaking in a modern context means Paul VI, as Paul V died several centuries ago. Get with the program before you try to correct people.


  15. Gillibrand of Catholic Church Conservation blog has been covering the Diocese of Linz for years and this latest episode. This diocese has been pure scandal liturgically and the pictures he has produced over the years are hard to believe. The latest episode just goes to show how far they are from union with Rome.

  16. geez, cmpt, I'd hate to see how you treat people when they intentionally mess up instead of making an honest mistake. I'd apologize but I'm afraid you'd accuse me of being patronizing. Lighten up.

  17. From the original post:

    "open revolt against the Pope, inflamed and supported by the shameless Bishops of Austria, first among them the Cardinal-Archbishop of Vienna."

    Unless I'm just way behind on episcopal appointments, that refers to Cardinal Schonborn... not your typical anti-papist. In my mind that casts some doubt over the opinion voiced by Rorate....

  18. Tu felix Austria....

    Histrionic protestations such as "this must not stand" aside, there is no revolt against the pope but rather simple Realpolitik at work.

    Cardinal Schoenborn, close friend of the pope, probably reminded the pope of the last two "staunch conservatives" in the Austrian episcopacy - who single-handedly were responsible for an uprecedented mass-exodus.

    - Bp. Kurt Krenn, right-wing provocateur who oversaw a seminary that took in the rejects from everywhere else. A child pornography and sex scandal (everyone with everyone) erupted and an Opus Dei bishop was brought in to replace him.

    - Cardinal Groer, a person so odd as to make listening to him unbearable. Would have had to hear him to believe the extent. Later retired in light of fondness-for-boys. Replaced by Cardinal Schoenborn

    - SSPX/Holocaust Denial. In light of the firestorm the pope has faced in Europe, incl. from the German chancellor, appointing a priest viewed as similarly ultraconservative was the wrong move at the wrong time, especially in that diocese. In the already hostile media climate, the appointment fit the storyline and made waves in Germany as well.

    It became clear that a bishop who'd face such all-out hostility wouldn't exactly be a shepherd.


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