And, by the way, 87,000 Austrian Catholics have recently formally resigned from the church......
Now it's Vienna's Cardinal Christoph Schönborn who's wading in hot water. Seems he and a group of Austrian priests and deacons got a full blast of papal steam on Holy Thursday......
The shrill Roman whistle sounded: No women or married men will be ordained.
Goodness, what's a 67-year-old prince of the church (and son of a count) to do? After all, Schönborn was a student of Joseph Ratzinger in Regensburg, Germany. He taught dogmatic theology at the University of Fribourg in Switzerland. He was a member of the International Theological Commission. He oversaw the creation of the 1992 Catechism of the Catholic Church.
Now Schönborn's former professor, the pope, chastised the Austrians (not directly, of course) in the middle of Holy Thursday. Benedict also sent a letter to Schönborn. Do you think it might be about women?
Schönborn has tangled with Benedict before. In 2009, as the Austrian bishops were ending emergency meetings called by the pope, the cardinal handed Benedict XVI a petition. Called an "initiative of the faithful," it asked for married priests (both men to be ordained and those who left to marry) and for ordination of women as deacons. Since then, the Austrian Priest's Initiative, representing 15 percent of Austrian clergy, broadened the demands. And, by the way, 87,000 Austrian Catholics have formally resigned from the church.
The Pfarrer Initiative, as it is also called, goes far beyond Schönborn's earlier requests, but Austria has been simmering with reform ideas for a long time as Rome watched. In 2001, three Vatican offices directed a terse four paragraph "Notification" (a document roughly on the level of parking regulations) at the Austrian bishops, telling them not to train women as deacons. The Vatican's argument: We do not want to ordain them. One of the Curia's signers was Joseph Ratzinger.
Now the rapidly aging pope -- he cannot walk the length of St. Peter's Basilica, and his brother doesn't think he should travel anymore -- appears to be upping the ante. Benedict spoke not only about women as priests on Holy Thursday. He spoke quite plainly about the law against "women's ordination," period. That was frauerordination. That was l'ordinazione delle donne.