Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn of Vienna surprised many of us when he called for an “unflinching examination” of mandatory clerical celibacy as a response to the sexual-abuse scandals. He stunned even more people when he went after former Vatican Secretary of State Angelo Cardinal Sodano for having “deeply wronged the victims” of sexual abuse by apparently dismissing news reports of the scandal as “petty gossip.” Making matters more heated, Schoenborn then accused Sodano of blocking an investigation of allegations against Austrian Cardinal Hans Hermann Groer, who resigned in 1995 after he was accused abusing seminarians (he never admitted guilt). The cardinal who wanted to investigate Groer? Joseph Ratzinger–one-time professor of Christoph Schoenborn.
How interesting, I thought at the time, that Schoenborn was going out on those limbs. He is, after all, supposedly close to the pope–and played a major role in Ratzinger’s election. Had he consulted with anyone in Rome before publicly airing his concerns about celibacy, about Sodano’s bad behavior? Apparently not.
Today, the Vatican press office released an unusually detailed statement (Italian only) describing a meeting between Schoenborn and the pope, who were eventually joined by Sodano and the current secretary of state, Tarcisio Bertone. Usually by this time Monday, the Vatican issues its English press release via e-mail. That hasn’t happened yet, so for the time being we’ll have to rely on Rocco Palmo’s translation (feel free to offer your own in the comboxes):