Posts Tagged Fr. Helmut Schuller
A new international network of reformist Roman Catholic priests is pushing to give lay people a bigger role in a Church that Pope Francis wants to bring closer to grassroots members. Speaking as dissidents from six countries met in Austria Oct. 11 for the first time, clergyman Helmut Schueller said the Church should draw on people in local parishes that are under threat of vanishing as the ranks of the priesthood dwindle.” By Michael Shields, Reuters
Read the rest of Shields’ story by clicking here.
By Steve Dzida, Voice of the Faithful® Orange County, California
“So now I tell you, have nothing to do with these men, and let them go. For if this endeavor or this activity is of human origin, it will destroy itself. But if it comes from God, you will not be able to destroy them; you may even find yourselves fighting against God.” So said the Pharisee Gamaliel to the Sanhedrin as they considered what to do with the disciples of Jesus who, inspired by the Holy Spirit, were preaching boldly and openly the good news of Jesus.
Unfortunately for our beloved Church, our Church officials continue to disregard Gamaliel’s sage advice. Bishop Geoffrey Robinson from Australia toured the U.S. several years ago urging Church officials to investigate the clergy sex abuse scandal thoroughly and courageously no matter where it might lead them. Judging such a message to be rebellious and dangerous, American bishops refused him permission to speak on Church property across the country. Bishop Robinson’s powerful message, delivered with humility and faith, resonated with thousands of committed Catholics across the country. Despite the “heads in the sand” approach of Church officials, Bishop Robinson’s message and the abuse scandal have not just gone away.
Fast forward to 2013. Fr. Helmut Schuller of Austria has just completed a cross-country, U.S. tour in which he proclaimed such “radical” notions as (1) the Eucharist is a symbol of inclusion and must not be used as a weapon against the People of God; (2) the Holy Spirit speaks through all the People of God, not just those who have been ordained; and (3) God made both men and women in God’s own image and likeness so we should not prohibit ordination of women. Fr. Schuller urged all of us to stand up as “Church citizens” and speak our minds to the hierarchy about matters of importance to the life of our Church. Once again, ignoring the wisdom of Gamaliel, American bishops prohibited Fr. Schuller from appearing on Church property. Consequently his tour itinerary was marked with appearances at Protestant churches and secular locations. Judge for yourself; use this link — http://www.wbur.org/2013/07/18/helmut-schuller-reformist-priest — to learn more about Fr. Schuller’s message.
So what will we do? We who are citizens of the Church, members of the People of God, baptized and sealed in the Holy Spirit—what will we do? Let us deliver the message to our pastors and our bishops that we will no longer sit still as they do their best to silence the Spirit’s voice in God’s people. Let us tell our pastors and our bishops that we expect them to stand up and speak up, as did Bishop Robinson and Fr. Schuller, to call for the structural changes that are necessary to preserve and protect our Church. Let us tell our pastors and our bishops that the Eucharist is the source and summit of our Church and we will not tolerate their sacrificing and rationing the Eucharist in order to preserve the vestiges of an all-male, celibate priesthood. Most importantly, let us call on each and every one of us people in the pews to rise up and take our places as the People of God, called by the Spirit, to deliver the good news of the Gospel to our Church officials who have lost their way.
Austrian Reformist Priest Fr. Helmut Schuller Concludes U.S. Tour in Front of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in NYC
Austrian reformist priest Fr. Helmut Schuller started his 15-city U.S. speaking tour, Catholic Tipping Point: Conversations with Helmut Schuller, in New York City July 16. He concluded his tour there Aug. 8 in front of St. Patrick’s Cathedral. He brought his Roman Catholic Church reform message to more than 5,000 people during his tour and received a good deal of media coverage in the U.S. and Europe. After speaking to supporters in front of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Fr. Schuller delivered thousands of actual and virtual red ribbons symbolizing the Holy Spirit and support for reform goals to the office of Cardinal Timothy Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. He also delivered the following letter to Cardinal Dolan:
August 8, 2013
Dear Cardinal Dolan:
Over the past three weeks, I have met with thousands of Catholics – laity and clergy – in 15 cities across the U.S. to share experiences and to learn from one another. At each place I visited, participants in our conversations wore red ribbons, signifying the gift of the Holy Spirit given to all the faithful. These ribbons as well as nearly 2,000 online signatures have been collected, and we offer them to you as a sign of our commitment to our church, a community where the People of God should be represented at every level of leadership and decision-making.
I learned much during my conversations with American Catholics. I discovered very many who are working hard to meet the challenges facing us all and to give voice to their needs, as is their right and obligation under Canon 212. I also heard from many priests who are concerned about the future of their parishes and their ministries. Sadly, many do not feel free to speak openly about their concerns. This must be a matter of concern to you as president of the USCCB. I do not believe that there is any place for fear or intimidation in our Church, and yet I found it time and again in my talks with fellow priests. I also found this same intimidation in the attempts to prevent Catholics from hearing me in Boston, Philadelphia and Detroit.
My hope is that my visit contributed to an authentic Christian conversation that must take place across our Church in every country. As we all are inspired by the example of Pope Francis, we should engage in an honest dialogue about the challenges we must overcome in making our Church a sign of the Kingdom and a sacrament to the world of the 21st century. As you know, I and my fellow priests have been working in Austria and in other parts of Europe to cultivate this dialogue. We stand ready to assist you here in the U.S. in any way we can to encourage the same honest and fearless exchange of views.
In the peace of Jesus Christ,
Rev. Helmut Schüller
Fr. Helmut Schüller’s “Catholic Tipping Point” tour of the United States ended where it began: in New York. He gave an address Wednesday evening in Manhasset and on Thursday, he visited St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan, where he delivered thousands of red ribbons and signatures he collected in 15 cities across the nation. By Ben Feuerherd, National Catholic Reporter
Read Feuerherd’s entire article by clicking here.
Fr. Helmut Schuller in Los Angeles: Decrying ‘Dictatorship of Church Hierarchy’ / National Catholic Reporter
It was 7:15 p.m. Friday (Aug. 2). Seats in the dimly lit auditorium adjacent to the Westminster Presbyterian Church in Pasadena, Calif., were beginning to fill. More than 200 Catholics from the Los Angeles area had gathered to hear the presentation by Austrian priest Fr. Helmut Schüller, who is calling upon Catholics to defy church hierarchy … ‘We don’t have any rights in this church,’ he said. ‘You are I are citizens in two worlds: citizens of the secular society — a democratic society — and citizens of the church — citizens without any rights — in a dictatorship.’ Murmurs of agreement from the crowd at this indicate the message has resonated.” By Gabrielle Canon, National Catholic Reporter
Read all of Canon’s article in National Catholic Reporter by clicking here.
Fr. Schuller makes the last stop on his Catholic Tipping Point U.S. speaking tour in Manhasset, Long Island, tomorrow, Aug. 7.
Detroit Catholic Archbishop Allen Vigneron has banned an Austrian priest from speaking at a Westland Catholic parish today because the Rev. Helmut Schüller advocates allowing women and married men to be priests, in opposition to current church teaching … But Schüller said that the Catholic Church’s ban on women and married priests is a church order that can be lifted. It’s not an inherent part of the teachings of the Catholic Church, whose positions have varied over the centuries, he said. Church leaders ‘make a mistake’ when they say these are ‘the teachings of the church.’” By Patricia Montemurri and Niraj Warikoo, Detroit Free Press
Read the entire article, “Archbishop Allen Vigeron Bans Liberal Priest Speech from Westland Church,” by clicking here.
Evangelizing the Institutional Church: An Interview with Helmut Schuller / National Catholic Reporter
Much has been written about Austrian priest and reformer Helmut Schüller since he opened his 15-city U.S. tour, called “The Catholic Tipping Point,” in New York last week. Hours before Schüller’s July 16 debut in New York City, he and I sat down for an interview. Since many of the goals and ideas we discussed — such as the plan for an international meeting of priests, the new evangelization, his thoughts about Cardinal Sean O’Malley’s barring him from speaking, and the institutional church’s treatment of same-sex couples — have not made it into most of the media coverage of his speaking engagements, I am offering the text of our conversation, which has been edited for length and clarity. By Jamie Manson, National Catholic Reporter
Read Ms. Manson’s entire column by clicking here.
By Bill Casey, long-time Voice of the Faithful® affiliate leader, former board chair and trustee
Today (July 22), I attended a presentation by Fr. Helmut Schuller at the National Press Club in D.C. The venue was one of several stops in a multi-city tour, during which he is talking about a group of Austrian priests’ “Call to Disobedience.” Schuller is one of the founders of the group, which comprises about 15% of the priests in Austria but is supported by a large number of Austrian clergy and lay people.
Schuller is a low-key guy with some very insightful conclusions about the failed/failing state of parishes in Austria and throughout much of Europe. There are too few priests to properly serve too many parishes, and as a result, the faith communities suffer from a disengaged faith experience — those that still remain active, not to mention the droves of others, including the youth, who have no connection to parish life. In response, Schuller’s group calls for pastoral disobedience when responding on a personal level to those excluded from full faith experience, including the divorced and remarried who are precluded from Eucharist, gays and lesbians who are excluded officially or unofficially from parish life and sacraments, and women and married men who are excluded from ordination. His group calls for public prophetic disobedience in calling for reforms that are silenced or ignored by hierarchical positions.
Although we would expect any such priest in the U.S. to be silenced, banned, or excluded in some way if he did what Schuller has done, Schuller and the other priests are in good standing within their dioceses. Schuller himself writes a weekly commentary on the Sunday readings in the diocesan newspaper, and his bishop (Cardinal Schonborn) did not attempt to block his speaking tour on these topics. Of course, at the only Catholic parish which invited him to speak, Boston Cardinal O’Malley banned him. The President of Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia, however, ignored objections from Archbishop Chaput and hosted a talk anyway.
Some key comments that I heard from Schuller today included the following (my wording):
- The Austrian clergy experience deep sorrow over the minimalist life of parishes where priests can barely cover a weekly liturgy and little else. It is a scandal when parishioners receive so little from their clergy.
- What have lay people received over the last 40-50 years as a result of their “obedience” to hierarchical decisions? There are far more victims of “obedience” than disobedience in our faith communities.
- The Church should fulfill an initiative of Paul VI who wanted to develop a “Constitution” for the Church that would distribute authority and hold those with authority accountable for exercising it.
- The handling of the sexual abuse scandal in our Church would have unfolded quite differently if such a Constitution were in place ten years ago.
- If reform were to take place, it would need to come out of the full collaboration of clergy and laity alike. Reform by lower clergy meeting with higher clergy is not a model to seek. A new Council at this moment in time would favor the latter.
Schuller struck me as a priest deeply concerned about the full life of Catholics, not as a headline-grabber for priestly interests. I hope that his movement infects priests in other countries to take a prophetic stand as a group and receive the fullest support and collaboration of laity in healing our deeply wounded Church.
Also see “Reformist Priest Sees Potential Ally in Pope Francis” by Kevin Eckstrom, Religion News Service, which reports on Fr. Schuller’s National Press Club talk.
Voice of the Faithful® was the major sponsor of the first two stops, July 16 and 17, on reformist Austrian priest Fr. Helmut Schuller’s 15-city U.S. speaking tour this summer, “Catholic Tipping Point: Conversations with Fr. Helmut Schuller.” Here is are a couple of early news stories about his talk:
Fr. Helmut Schüller should be on summer vacation right now. Instead, the Austrian priest, who gained international attention in 2011 for his “Call to Disobedience,” has chosen to spend his time off from parish ministry offering a presentation titled “The Catholic Tipping Point: Conversations” in 15 U.S. cities. The tour kicked off Tuesday night at Manhattan’s Judson Memorial Church, a historic community in Greenwich Village with affiliations to the United Church of Christ and the American Baptist Church.” By Jamie Manson, National Catholic Reporter
Read Jamie Manson’s entire article by clicking here.
An Austrian priest who advocates ordination of women and married men, a position that led Boston church leaders to bar him from speaking at a local parish, said Wednesday that plans like the one Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley has put forward to group parishes and priests into clusters weaken the church rather than strengthen it. The Rev. Helmut Schuller, who has long been concerned about how power is concentrated at the top echelons of the church hierarchy, is organizing a major priests’ movement in Austria that grew out of priests’ opposition to parish closings and restructuring plans that require clergy to minister to multiple churches. He argues that expanding the priesthood is a better answer than clustering plans that spread priests too thin, undermining their relationships with parishioners. By Lisa Wangsness, The Boston Globe
Read Lisa Wangsness’ entire article by clicking here.
Hundreds of people, most of them Catholic, turned out Wednesday night in Dedham to hear a Catholic priest — a reformist — from Austria. The Rev. Helmut Schuller was scheduled to speak at St. Susanna Parish in Dedham, but was barred by Cardinal Sean O’Malley due to his positions on several issues which run contrary to official Catholic church doctrine. So the meeting was moved to a Unitarian church. By Fred Thys, WBUR-FM
Listen to Fred Thys’ entire story by clicking here.
Voice of the Faithful® and nine other Roman Catholic Church reform organizations have formed a coalition to support Fr. Schuller’s tour.
Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley is banning an Austrian priest from speaking at a Catholic parish in Dedham because the priest advocates ordaining women and making celibacy optional, stances that place him in opposition to church teachings. The Rev. Helmut Schuller was invited to speak at St. Susanna Parish July 17 as part of a 15-city tour of the United States called ‘The Catholic Tipping Point: Conversations with Helmut Schuller,’ sponsored by a coalition of reform-minded Catholic organizations, including Voice of the Faithful, based in Needham.”