Clergy in German speaking countries divided over “Call to Disobedience”

Vatican Insider

An open war is going on in the German speaking Catholic world between liberals and conservatives, with numerous appeals and counter-appeals

Alessandro Alviani

The conflict between liberal and conservative currents in the German speaking Catholic world has led to “an open split” within the clergy. This is according to the latest issue of the German news magazine Der Spiegel. A communiqué published last week by the Network of Catholic Priests, a conservative group made up of approximately 500 parish priests, caused the clash that has been going on for months now to escalate. The communiqué, signed by Fathers Guido Rodheudt, Hendrick Jolie and Uwe Winkel as well as German, Austrian and Swiss priests, launches a harsh attack on the “Call to Disobedience” which was published last summer by the Priests’ Initiative, a liberal movement with roots in Austria, that is asking for a review of the Church’s stance on homosexuality, celibacy and women’s access to the priesthood. “The Priests’ Initiative is yet another sad symptom of the de facto schism that has existed under the bishop’s noses in German speaking territories,” the communiqué said. This schism “does not separate lay people from the clergy, or German speaking Countries from the Roman Curia,” but rather, those who accept the Church’s doctrine and system from those who are on the path towards “creating a Church of their own.”

The document strongly criticises the reaction of bishops to the Call to Disobedience amongst other things. The impression is that “bishops are afraid to speak frankly and prefer to look on as the Pope’s authority as pastor of the whole Church is undermined.” In German speaking Countries today, “those who draw attention to forms of liturgical and doctrinal disobedience are branded as “disloyal”, whilst those who launch appeals in favour of disobedience are courted” and receive more attention. This leads one to draw conclusions as to “the mental attitude of those who are responsible for German speaking dioceses.”

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