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Archbishop Grings, meet Cardinal Schoenborn

In other news from Lake Wobegone, Austrian Cardinal Christophe Schoenborn, a former student of Ratzinger's who is close to the pope, gave some noteworthy comments to Austrian media -- via the latest edition of The Tablet:

The head of the Austrian Church has launched an attack of one of the most senior cardinals in the Vatican, saying that Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals, deeply wronged the victims of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy when he dismissed media reports of the scandal. In a meeting with editors of the main Austrian daily newspapers last week, Cardinal Christoph Schnborn, the Archbishop of Vienna, also said the Roman Curia was urgently in need of reform, and that lasting gay relationships deserved respect. He reiterated his view that the Church needs to reconsider its position on re-married divorcees.

More here.It seems the Holy Spirit does blow where he, or she, will...

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Yay, Cardinal Schoenborn! Schoenborn for Pope!!

Ann, Schoenborn backed Ratzinger in the conclave, so I imagine he's good for now. But he did get one vote himself on the last round. Where were YOU on April 19, 2005....?!

And this is the guy who wrote the Catechism. People are complex, aren't they?

Life is complex, too. To live is to change, as the fellow said...

O right--wasn't it one of the Marx brothers who came up with that line? Harpo, I think

I think Schonborn has been radicalized by the scandals and the rapid bleeding of the Church in Austria since the most recent wave broke. Three times the usual rate of defections have been counted over the past three months. Perhaps he always had it in him to see the signs of the times, but recent events seem certainly to have brought out his courage and his ability to say the right things. And, for once, we are seeing a highly placed Archbishop who is willing to give some acknowledgement to progressives in the church! I am enjoying watching him go. He even collaborated with We Are Church in putting together the litany for the recent penance service at his cathedral in Vienna that drew 3,000 people --astounding. AND he delivered it with a lay woman theologian! These are unheard-of gestures. Many bishops won't even allow We Are Church into their dioceses.

Harpo -- Anthony, that was a good one! It was really Moe or Larry, I think...And yes, good on Schoenborn. It takes a crisis, I guess.

Cardinal Schoenborn turns out to be a beautiful surprise! In all fairness, though, I have detected some other intelligent comments from him recently, so perhaps I am not really entitled to be surprised.

Didn't Newman associate life with change?

It's wonderful to watch someone wrestle with a difficult situation and get clearer and clearer about what is wrong and what is to be done about it. Maybe his example will start the ball rolling. Imagine being able to open the papers in the morning or click on our favorite blog and find other highly placed clerics suddenly speaking the truth to power. It just could happen.And thanks, David for the quick catch on this good news!

"To live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often." -- Cardinal Newman, not sure when or where.

"Archbishop Grings, meet Cardinal Schoenborn"Oh, what tangled webs!

On the down side, Cardinal Pell of Sydney is the new Prefect of the Congregation on Bishops. Wearer of the Cappa Magna, guiding spirit of Vox Clara, champion of the ad orientem position, etc., He may be influencing the choice of our new Bishops for some time to come. Curial reform can't come fast enough!

Susan, has that been made official? Sounds like it'll happen, and it would indeed be another round on the Catholic roller coaster. Luckily, of course, Cardinal Law is till on the Congregation for Bishops and can steer Pell on the right course...

"It is indeed sometimes said that the stream is clearest near the spring. Whatever use may fairly be made of this image, it does not apply to the history of a philosophy or belief, which on the contrary is more equable, and purer, and stronger, when its bed has become deep, and broad, and full. It necessarily rises out of an existing state of things, and for a time savours of the soil. Its vital element needs disengaging from what is foreign and temporary, and is employed in efforts after freedom which become wore vigorous and hopeful as its years increase. Its beginnings are no measure of its capabilities, nor of its scope. At first no one knows what it is, or what it is worth. It remains perhaps for a time quiescent; it tries, as it were, its limbs, and proves the ground under it, and feels its way. From time to time it makes essays which fail, and are in consequence abandoned. It seems in suspense which way to go; it wavers, and at length strikes out in one definite direction. In time it enters upon strange territory; points of controversy alter their bearing; parties rise and around it; dangers and hopes appear in new relations; and old principles reappear under new forms. It changes with them in order to remain the same. In a higher world it is otherwise, but here below to live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often." (Newman: On the Development of Doctrine)Not so by the way, here's the wonderful site where you will find all of Newman's works, with a fine search-engine, the one I used to find the quote above.http://www.newmanreader.org/index.html

Sorry, I was a bit premature. Rocco is quite sure it is a done deal, though. He provides a long citation from an article by Andrea Tornielli (in English translation.) The other site links the article in Italian. Nothing happens till it happens, though, even in Rome. So we will have to wait and see. (And yes, of course we can rest easy with Cardinal Law aboard. And the juggernaut will roll on... )http://whispersintheloggia.blogspot.com/http://www.catholicculture.org/n...

Where were YOU on April 19, 2005.?!:David G --I was for Cardinal Martini, the Jesuit Biblical scholar. He's too old now. I was also favorably impressed by Fr,Timothy Radcliffe, the Dominican, even though he wasn't a bishop and was too young. A big advantage of Cardinal Schoenborn is that he is one of "them". I know from my experience as a Southerner that when you want real reform it has to come from within. Such reformers often become the most radical, and they can talk back to the lingering bad guys from the their shared experience. Look at Lyndon Johnson and civil rights.I don't think he'd have gotten any white Southern support if he hadn't been brought up in a racist milieu himself. So I think Schoenborn might be just exactly what the Church needs at this point. I just don't know of anyone who'd be better. Sigh. Whom do you guys see as papabile next round?

Bravo to Cardinal Schnborn for daring to let himself be influenced by reality and for expressing some personal thoughts.

Obviously the US style of politicking is more prevalent when it cometh to papible than is the UK style.The current issue of The Tablet (Robt Mickens' column to be exact) points out how the post-Maciel Of Late Lamented Memory Sodano is more prevalent than ever, as well. This, of course, proves the old Roman axiom: Eff up, suck up, move up -- but never shut up. (I think that dates back to the Didache, but could be wrong.)

Much needed breath of fresh air, if it's for real. I could hardly believe it.Mickens wrote earlier of 25% (?) of Germans withdrawing from the Church, something like 6.25 million, if I recall. Anyway the numbers were staggering and I thought that is the kind of needed shock to wake folks up.Yes, here's the text, my memory better than on most occasions recently: "A staggering 6.25 million German Catholics, that is a quarter of the German Church, are expected to leave the Church this year because of the scandal, according to a poll in the Frankfurter Rundschau daily. This will cost the Church millions of euros as people leaving opt out of paying church tax (8 per cent of income tax). In Austria, 30,000 Catholics have left the Church this year, compared to 21,000 by this time last year, which was a record year.http://www.thetablet.co.uk/article/14646 Not be too cynical but highly realistic: money talks, maybe. Germany and US provide highest monies to Rome.Prof. Kaveny has an outstanding article at http://commonwealmagazine.org/darkening#comment-165"So an effective response to the crisis will take more than truth commissions to find out what happened in the past and policy committees to protect children in the future. It will also take the development of new ways of enabling believers to identify imaginatively and affectively with the church. We will need the contributions of artists and novelists, not merely those of lawyers and psychologists. ...The sexual-abuse scandal, however, was and is reality. In real life, losing ones faith is less like losing an argument than like losing a source of light. Its like sitting in a chapel at sunset, dully watching the vivid harmony of color bleed out of the stained-glass windows, leaving nothing but a flat, leaden monochrome in its place."Leaden monochrome, yes, yes.

I saw Abp Christoph Schoenborn in the Stefansdom about 10 years ago and he looked like a mummy on his sedia, like another Pius XII.But now when he says that "lasting gay relationships deserve respect", he sounds like John Paul I, who believed the same thing. Papa subito!

The picture that Rocco posted on the Whispers-in-the-Loggia blog of Pell in his cappa magna reminded me of the infamous Cardinal Ottaviani! I remember the election of John XXIII...no one was expecting anything to change...much less Vatican II. John did not become pope with a definite agenda...certainly not a literal one, but he, from his experience in the Church, knew that things had to begin to change....John was definitely "one of them"...an old Italian cardinal, who had a great love for people, all people.

Ken L. --I thought Cardinal Ottaviani was a thoroughly awful man until I read that he personally supported an orphanage. Moral: we've got to stop judging the consciences and holiness of other people, especially those who disagree with us. That goes for all sides.

I think Ottavianni was an waful man because he may or may not have been holy, but because he tenaciously fought the reforms of VII.I also (apropos of Pell and Salttery et al.) think of the Master's words abou tbewarin gof thos ewho love high places etc.

Didn't Schoenborn do a rather. . . surprising . . . op/ed on evolution in the NYT a couple of years ago/

Yes, he did, which is one reason I never expected this turn of events.

He has a website with all his evolution articles. I didn't really care for him then because he was in argument with Jesuit astronomer George Coyne, who I really liked.

Schoenborn said that the Irish church is at a crisis of 5 with a possible five with Austria being at 3. Nothing like people turning away to wake up an empire which knows how to count. With the pr man in at the Vatican saying that Soldano was out of order it shows that they are bouncing this ball trying to gauge the danger.Follow the money. Triste dictu!

Fr. Komonchak, wonderful quote from Newman. Thanks.

Maybe Schoenborn,the aristocrat conservative, yet not tied to ideology is willing to let noblesse oblige lead him to new ground. any way the stumbling Church can get help is OK with me.

I think this Schoenborn is the same One who criticized evolution a while ago. This fact had me worried as well. I agree, Crystal. I know George Coyne personally and re. science, I'd trust him over any cardinal any day. But this does seem promising. Perhaps people really can change. Let's continue to pray, work and never lose hope. Peace and blessings.

Not only has Schonborn made some curious statements on evolution that he later tried to clarify -- his first and most public statement in a NYT op-ed (you known, that notoriously anti-Catholic newspaper) -- but he also recently did some freelancing at the Marian apparitions site at Medjugorje that did not please the local ordinary, who said Schonborn's visit last November added to the current suffering of the local church.http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/medjugorje_bishop_says_cardinal_s... I think it's a mistake to see any cardinal or potential pope as a messiah-like figure -- another John XIII, would be the liberal version, I think. And B16 has not always pleased conservatives, though he's doing better...

What does this mean?"The cardinal also said the Church needed to reconsider its view of re-married divorcees as many people dont even marry at all any longer. The primary thing to consider should not be the sin, but peoples striving to live according to the commandments, he said. Instead of a morality based on duty, we should work towards a morality based on happiness, he continued."... or this?"Questioned on the Churchs attitude to homosexuals, the cardinal said: We should give more consideration to the quality of homosexual relationships, adding: A stable relationship is certainly better than if someone chooses to be promiscuous. "It's possible to read more than one meaning into each of these statements. I could mount an argument that, giving due allowance for the fact that these quotes were lifted from a verbal back-and-forth with the press, rather than from a carefully crafted document, nothing much is really new here.Does anyone know if a transcript is available in English of the Cardinal's talk? Or if he has subsequently commented on or clarified anything from that interview?

You are right that it may not be new, since Jan Visser, co-author of Persona Humana, made similar noises.

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About the Author

David Gibson is a national reporter for Religion News Service and author of The Coming Catholic Church (HarperOne) and The Rule of Benedict (HarperOne). He blogs at dotCommonweal.