Pray Brethren

Pray Brethren

Monday, April 2, 2012

Non-Confrontational Personalities Wielding Authority

Coming on the heels of Cardinal Wuerl’s removal of a Catholic priest because he refused the Eucharist to practicing Buddhist lesbian, another orthodox cardinal is in the news at odds with a priest over another homosexual.

The cardinal is none other than Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna, Austria.

The issue concerns the appointment of a practicing homosexual to a parish council. After winning two-thirds of the parishioners’ votes, Florian Stangl was barred by the parish priest, Fr. Gerhard Swierzek, from taking a seat on the council. The twenty-six year old is currently living with another man in a registered domestic partnership, and is thus not in good standing with the Church.

Enter Cardinal Schönborn.

Overruling one of his parish priests, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna has permitted a homosexual in a registered domestic partnership to serve on a parish council… Cardinal Schönborn said that he had initially intended to uphold the priest’s decision--but then, he said, “I ask myself in these situations: How did Jesus act? He first saw the human being.”
For his part, Stangl had this to say:

“I feel committed to the teachings of the Church. But the demand to live chastely seems kind of unrealistic to me. How many people really live chastely?”
I wonder what Jesus would have said to the woman caught in adultery if that was her response to his command: "Go and sin no more" (John 8:11).

Having lunch with Stangl and his homosexual lover, however, was the tipping point which led Schönborn to make “a decision for human beings,” rather than to support a priest wielding a legitimate authority formed by the teaching of the Church and the moral law.

Schönborn is perhaps best known for leading the work on the newest Catechism of the Catholic Church. Both Schönborn and Wuerl, however, are admired for their adherence to the Catholic faith in teaching. Wuerl recently published a book with Mike Aqulina on the Mass and Schönborn entered the faith and science debate with a book called Chance or Purpose?

Morality is carried by personalities. To wield the crozier – the bishop’s staff – means to wield a sacral authority. To wear a miter, with its two lappets hanging behind representing Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition, means to authoritatively speak and defend the Word of God in its two primary sources and lived liturgical expression. The bishop’s ring is a sign of fidelity, a faithful “yes” to God which precludes saying “yes” to the world and its mortally wounded, but nevertheless deadly, master, the Father of Lies.

The people who heard Jesus “were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority” (Mark 1:22). With that in mind, our bishops should recall what Jesus said of them: “Whoever hears you, hears me” (Luke 10:16). The next time the people hear Jesus through the voice of the bishop or cardinal, will they too be astonished at his teaching as one having authority? Or will they hear the words of an erudite scholar shaped by a non-confrontational personality?

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