In 2009, Christopher Cardinal Schoenborn, the conservative-ish Archbishop of Vienna, put the smackdown on a group of traditionalist Catholics in his archdiocese. Excerpt:

The Vatican is set to tell a rebel ultra- traditional Catholic group that the Church’s core values and its relations with Judaism are not negotiable, Austrian Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn said in an interview published on Saturday. Earlier this year, the Catholic leadership in Rome drew criticism from within and outside the Church for lifting excommunication orders against bishops of the controversial Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX), including British-born Richard Williamson who has denied the scale of the Nazi mass murder of Jews.


The non-negotiable positions to be set out to the Pius Society include the Church’s positions towards the Jewish faith, other non- Christian religions as well as Christian faiths, and towards religious freedom as a fundamental human right, according to Schoenborn.

So far so good. One agrees that the church’s leaders have to stand firm on important principles. Condemning anti-Semitism is one of them, certainly. Come we now to the present day, in which Florian Stangl, a young Austrian gay Catholic living in a registered partnership with his lover, was popularly elected to a parish council. The parish priest wouldn’t allow him to take his seat, citing his homosexual partnership as a violation of the church’s rules for the kind of person permitted to sit on the council. Cardinal Schoenborn got involved — and threw the priest under the bus. From the Cardinal’s statement:

I was able to have a personal conversation with Herr Stangl, and was deeply impressed by his faithful disposition, his humility, and the way in which he lives his commitment to service. I can therefore understand why the inhabitants of Stützenhofen voted so decidedly for his participation in the parish council.

The cardinal upheld the election. For his part, Herr Stangl told the press: “I am committed to the teaching of the Church, but to make demands  to live chastely seems unrealistic to me. How many people live chastely?”

Herr Stangl has a bright future ahead of him in today’s Church. Over to you, Herr Dougherty…

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