Bah, Humbug

Were we too tough (December 19, 1997) on the Vatican’s recent document “Some Questions Regarding Collaboration of Nonordained Faithful in Priests’ Sacred Ministry”? Not as tough as Bishop Reinhold Stecher of Innsbruck, Austria. In a letter dated the last Sunday of the liturgical year, he objected to: The instruction’s failure to see the Eucharist as necessary for the well-being of local communities; its refusal to see the priesthood as “an office of serving and not an exercise in sacred narcissism”; and its “tendency to value human rules...more highly than the divine commission.” Bishop Stecher also criticizes the pope’s refusal to consider reconciliation with men who have left the priesthood, making the teachings of Jesus subordinate to “ecclesiastic administrative practices,” all of which, he says, ends in undermining papal authority. The “Instruction” was signed by the heads of eight Vatican offices, including Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. To this squadron of ecclesiastical combatants, Bishop Stecher seems to respond by concluding: “For the sake of the church it must not be that the very top is concerned with every splinter at the base, but doesn’t see the beam in its own eye.” The instruction will be found in Origins, November 27, 1997; a full translation of Bishop Stecher’s letter by Ingrid Shafer will be found at:...

To read the rest of this article please login or become a subscriber.