The Austrian Pfarrer Initiative/Priests’ Initiative – a call for honesty

Bechyne Church © Ricky Yates

At the end of my recent post about the Ecumenical Service for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, I mentioned the Pfarrer Initiative in Austria, that calls for radical reform within the Roman Catholic Church. I did promise a future blog post about it. So here it is!

The Pfarrer Initiative is an open call to disobedience by nearly 400 Roman Catholic priests and deacons in Austria. As such, they constitute roughly 10% of the Austrian Roman Catholic clergy. You can read their original ‘Appeal to Disobedience’ in English, by following this link. However inevitably, most other online material about this radical reform movement is only available in German.

This initiative arises out of two major issues that increasingly face Roman Catholic priests across Europe and North America. How to offer the sacraments and pastoral care, to the ever increasing number of people whose lives do not conform exactly to official Roman Catholic doctrine. And how to overcome the ever increasing shortage of priests. What the Pfarrer Initiative calls for is radical change. But it is also a call for honesty rather than the hypocrisy that exists at present

The official position of the Roman Catholic Church is that anyone who has been married in Church and later divorced and remarried in a civil ceremony, cannot be admitted to receive the sacrament of Holy Communion. Likewise, it is only paid-up members of the Roman Catholic Church that can be admitted, not members of any other Christian Church.

With the ever increasing number of Roman Catholics who are divorced and remarried, the official position creates major pastoral problems for Roman Catholic priests. Many overcome the problem by simply ignoring official RC teaching and allow those who are divorced and remarried to receive the sacraments. Alternatively, these individuals take themselves off to a Church two or three parishes removed from where they live, where their past marital affairs are unknown.

Likewise, I have received the sacrament of Holy Communion from a Roman Catholic priest, with his permission, on numerous occasions. The most memorable occasion was in Spain where the priest was a paid-up member of Opus Dei. When administering Holy Communion, he gave the consecrated host/communion wafer to each individual and invited them to take the consecrated wine by intinction. But when he came to me, he insisted that I should take the chalice in my own hands and drink the consecrated wine, ‘because I was a priest’. Of course, the official Roman Catholic position is that all Anglican orders are invalid!

In Austria, the problem of the shortage of priests is currently being dealt with in one of two ways, both of which are causing increasing anger and frustration from clergy and laity alike. Parishes are being amalgamated and priests are being forced to run around between Churches, celebrating mass one time after another, with little time for pastoral conversations following worship. Or African clergy are being imported who cannot speak German properly, let alone Österreichisch, and who inevitably have little understanding of the people or their culture.

The Pfarrer Initiative calls for ‘the admission of women and married people to the priesthood’ as a very practical way of addressing this problem. But even if the official Roman Catholic position on this matter were to change overnight, and under the current Pope that most certainly will NOT happen, it would still take many years for such people to undertake theological training and then be ordained.

It is what then follows this call that I find most interesting. ‘We express solidarity with colleagues no longer permitted to exercise their ministry because they have married, and also with those in ministry who live in a permanent relationship’.

By implication, those behind the Pfarrer Initiative are saying that, if those priests forced to cease their ministry because they have fallen in love with a woman and have chosen to marry her, were allowed to resume their ministry, the number of available, already theologically trained priests, would promptly increase. They are also acknowledging what many people already know, including many in the RC hierarchy – that many supposedly celibate Roman Catholic priests, actually live, ‘in a permanent relationship’. Once more, what we have here is a clear call for honesty and an end to hypocrisy.

It is those Roman Catholic priests who openly admit that they have fallen in love with a woman and do the right and proper thing and marry the lady, who are being honest. Yet as things currently stand, such individuals are promptly deprived of their right to minister. Yet those priests who have a girlfriend three parishes down the road, or a live-in lover whom they declare to be their housekeeper – they are allowed to continue in ministry.

I found a news report on the BBC News website three years ago, absolutely fascinating as it bears out everything I’ve written in the previous paragraph. It relates the results of a survey of Roman Catholic priests in Poland, carried out by a sociologist. Responding to a questionnaire, aided by the cloak of anonymity, more than 30% admitted to having had sexual relations with a woman and 12% said they were living in stable relationships with a woman.

I am very aware that all of us, myself very much included, can be guilty of hypocrisy – of saying one thing and then doing another. The liturgy of Ash Wednesday in two days time, spells it out clearly. ‘We confess to you, Lord…. all our past unfaithfulness: the pride, hypocrisy and impatience of our lives’. In response we ask, ‘Lord, have mercy’.  I for one, welcome all that the Pfarrer Initiative calls for. It is a clear call for honesty, in place of hypocrisy. However, whether the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church will ever take heed of it, is a very open question.

35 comments to The Austrian Pfarrer Initiative/Priests’ Initiative – a call for honesty

  • Phill

    Interesting blog Dad, not sure about the portaloo in the photo though! Or is that the confessional box?

    • Ricky

      Hi PJ – Glad you liked the blog post. Lol – trust you to spot the portaloo at the very bottom of the picture! I wanted to maintain my ‘house style’ of having a photo at the beginning of each post. Therefore, a picture of a Church that I hadn’t used previously on the blog, seemed the ideal one to use. In Bechyne, where I took the picture last October, the whole the large central sqare was being re-laid and the portable toilet was there for the workmen. I couldn’t crop it out without also losing some of the base of the Church itself.

  • I was fascinated by the decision to appoint such a conservative Pope this time around. It seems self-evident that survival alone would dictate some updating. It’s admirable whenever anyone ‘speaks truth to power.’ I wish the priests well in their journey, even if all they achieve is dialogue.

    • Ricky

      Karen – I don’t know so much about ‘fascinated’, rather I was frankly ‘appalled’. To my mind, the current Pope has taken the Church backwards rather than forwards. It would be nice if the group behind the Pfarrer Initiative could achieve dialogue but that doesn’t seem to be happening & it will be interesting to see where all of this ends.

  • Sher

    I feel the same way you do about the current Pope, and his taking the RCs backwards. The RC Church should allow that some are called to celibacy for life, while others may be called to live celibate for shorter periods. I believe most priests have received a real calling from God. What a loss for the church, to cut these priests off from the ministering life of the church when they are honest and marry the woman they love.

    It would be great to see the RCs open up in my lifetime, but I’m not sure that will happen. In the meantime, Anglicans are welcoming, as are some other Protestants. Thank goodness there is room for disatisfied RCs at the Lord’s table.

    • Ricky

      Hi Sher – thanks for both visiting and commenting. I have to say that I agree 100% with everything that you say.

  • Well written, Ricky. Thanks for shining light on subjects usually hidden.

    I have not seen any national statistics for the USA but in the Roman Catholic Archdioceses in Oregon and Washington states enrollment in seminaries has been steadily increasing for several years. As a result the number of priests being ordained each year has also increased. I think it is due to the idealism of youth. Time will tell how many new priests stay the course.


    • Ricky

      Michael – thank you for your kind words.

      Your stats from the NW states of the US of A are interesting. However overall, the level of recruitment of new RC priests is in no way covering the loss through retirements or death of the previous generation of RC priests, certainly not in the Western world. Unfortunately, it is a reality that the current RC heirarchy refuse to see or address.

  • Thank you very much for this very well written piece about our “Pfarrer-Initiative” in Austria.
    Regards and God Bless you all
    Hans Bensdorp – Vice Chairman

    • Ricky

      Hans – Thank you for your kind words. I trust that what I’ve written will make the ‘Pfarrer Initiative’ more widely known, both in the English-speaking world and across the Anglican Communion.

      Mit vielen Dank – Ricky

  • Hi Ricky, Thanks again for a thought-provoking blog, I hadn’t heard about this. As usual, I’ve got so many things to say – I’ll try not to say them all!

    Regarding the whole situation with the RC church and the hypocrisy of mistresses being tolerated and honest priests being punished, I am reminded of a dear friend of mine who was rejected from C of E ordination because, in addition to being a close-to perfect candidate and gay, he suffered from the “fault” of too much honesty. This was in the early 80s, perhaps things are better now.

    Very often silence is interpreted as suggesting the presence of a regretted human weakness that is, perhaps, being earnestly struggled with every day, whereas honesty is taken to imply pride in what is considered to be a fault.

    What is right and wrong is so relative, and we are so influenced by the culture in which we live. Things that 200 years ago seemed obvious to upstanding people (I’ve just finished reading William Hague’s wonderful biography of William Wilberforce, whose views on the wickedness of slavery were rejected by the majority of Britons for decades) seem absurd to us today.

    I just think that the RC church is rather behind the Anglican church on this and several other issues, and that the priests in Austria are giving it a little push. The current RC leadership is under the illusion that rigidity will hold back a tide. It is worth noting that once before, when a priest from just a little further north called for disobedience against church hypocrisy and found many willing followers, a good proportion of the Christian Church left Rome behind for good. I expect that the Vatican remembers that every day – even if they do not take heed of the need for honesty in place of hypocrisy.

    • Ricky

      Peter – I would never want someone’s honesty to be considered a ‘fault’. I would rather see it as an important attribute, especially for an ordained priest.

      I’m intrigued by your last paragraph in which you refer to ‘when a priest from just a little further north called for disobedience against church hypocrisy and found many willing followers, a good proportion of the Christian Church left Rome behind for good’. Where and when was this?

  • Hi Ricky – I’m really sorry about this, I was being rhetorical and obscure in an attempt to be droll. It is not because I don’t take this seriously, it’s because I do. (and maybe I was showing off a bit)

    I was completely clear that you did not consider honesty to be a fault, I was just being ironic. The ordination panel seemed to consider my friend’s honesty about his sexuality to be a “fault” because it was made clear to him that they wouldn’t have minded about his sexuality (common enough in ordained priests in the C of E, as I expect you know) if only he had chosen not to mention it when asked whether he intended to marry. Like you, I would have thought honesty was one of the most important attributes of a priest.
    And the priest that I was obscurely referring to was Martin Luther in Germany in the early sixteenth century.

    Again, sorry for the confusion. A reminder to me to be more direct unless people are used to me and know that I am attempting to be amusing!

    • Ricky

      Peter – Not a problem! You are allowed to be rhetorical and droll.

      I did wonder whether you were refering to a major historical event in your last paragraph but it wasn’t that clear. I now get the ‘just a little further north’ as the location of Germany in relation to Austria.

  • A very interesting and illuminating post, Ricky. When the first vote to allow the ordination of women to the priesthood in the Church in Wales failed in 1994, I will never forget being consoled by the local Roman Catholic priest, a Marist Father, who said to me that he was sure it would happen for me before long (which it did) and that (and I quote) “it will happen in our church one day, but we have the hurdle of celibacy to cross first”. He also said it wouldn’t happen under the then Pope and of course it won’t happen under the present one, but 60 years ago, who could have predicted John XXIII and Vatican 2?

    • Ricky

      Thank you Perpetua – Indeed, who could have predicted Pope John XXIII & Vatican 2? But most RCs I talk to feel that, under the previous Pope & especially under the current one, the RC Church has gone back on many of the reforms Vatican 2 introduced. Your local RC priest was however right – celibacy will be the first issue before progress is made in other areas such as the ordination of women.

  • Mike in Bohemia

    Dear Ricky,

    Very interesting 🙂 I converted from Methodism to the RC church about 10 years ago. I love the theology, rituals, spirituality etc, but the RC hierarchy covering up the priest child scandals on such a huge scale has made me wonder if I did the right thing. I think the Anglicans have got it right about allowing women priests/bishops and married clergy, right thru the hierarchy. I think the only way the RC church can be taken seriously in future by the general public is if they followed this same way, then people would think the RC church is serious about improving things. Celibacy should be a voluntary and personal choice for priests in my view, like anyone else.

    I was glad to hear that that RC priest gave you communion too Ricky.
    I also find the broad-church principle you have very clever.

    In our RC parish in London, the priest turned a blind eye to divorcees taking communion, it was a “don’t ask policy”.

    I know a Slovakian ex RC priest who fell in love with a lady and was excommunicated for it. He married her and has a family now, but cant do anything in RC church. He is in a wacky New Age community now. All that education and training gone to waste, and he is really decent. And the paedophiles are allowed to continue, it makes no sense to me.
    Thanks for the info about Austria, I hope they succeed 🙂

    God bless, nice blog,


    • Ricky

      Hi Mike,

      Thank you for visiting & leaving such a detailed comment.

      The views that you express in your first paragraph are what the vast majority of RC laity also think, certainly in Europe & North America. Whilst I said nothing in my post about all the recent priest child abuse scandals, there is no question that they have very badly damaged the RC Church.

      What you describe the RC priest in your London parish as doing with regard to those who are divorced & re-married, just confirms what I wrote in my post. And everybody knows that it happens. Likewise, whilst I am always pleased when a RC priest will give me communion when I’m somewhere, such as on the Camino de Santiago in Spain, (which is where the specific instance that I described, occurred), I am also aware of what the official RC position is.

      And certainly, the loss of RC priests who choose to be honest & marry the lady they have fallen in love with, is as you describe, a complete waste of education & training. Those behind the Pfarrer Initiative in Austria are so right to point this out as it would massively help solve the increasing shortage of priests from which the RC Church is suffering.

  • Jess

    I think I can make the argument both ways. On one hand, surely the Roman Catholic Church will have to make way and allow women and marriage into the priesthood – not doing so just seems to be holding onto an era that this world has moved on from. On the other hand, just because society has shifted in it’s stance, does that mean that the ideals that the Church has held onto for thousands of years be let go of, even if it means that less people will attend Church. In other words, is it better to hold strong to ideals or is it better to move with the times?

    • Ricky

      Jess – You make a fair point. There is a distinct possibility of the RC Church splitting between those, represented by the current Pope, who believe nothing should change & would much prefer to celebrate with their back to the people, use Latin etc, etc; and those who see the folly & dishonesty of the current situation and will openly institute change. I would however, take issue with your statement about ‘…the ideals that the Church has held onto for thousands of years’. The Christian Church has only existed for just under 2000 years and universal celibacy for all clergy only became the norm sometime in the eleventh century, i.e. less than a thousand years ago.

  • I found this site by accident. I just wanted to clarify a few things from a Catholic perspective.

    First, the practice of non-marrying priests is just that – a practice. It is subject to change, and does not exist in every rite of Catholicism. My uncle is a priest, and he does know some RC’s who are priests and married. It requires special permission from the Bishop, but it does happen here in the US.

    Second, the ordination of women as Catholic priests will never happen. It has nothing to do with “getting with the times” or however anyone wishes to say it. It has to do with the fundamental theology of the body and of Jesus’ relationship to the Church.

    In response to Jess’ question – it is better to hold strong to ideals (as in 2 Thess. 2:14-15) because they are the truth. Society swings like a pendulum; the Word of God remains steadfast and unwavering in spite of it.

    • Ricky

      Bill – thank you for visiting and leaving your comment. However, your comment does not ‘…clarify a few things from a Catholic perspective’. The word ‘catholic’ means ‘universal’ – what you are doing is offering your personal opinion as a lay Roman Catholic.

      You are right in saying that there are a small number of Roman Catholic priests, particularly in the USA, Canada and the UK, who are married. They are almost always former priests/ministers from other Churches, (usually Anglican/Episcopal), who were already married when they were received into the Roman Catholic Church and re-ordained as RC priests. No existing RC priest of the Western rite can marry. If he does so, he has to resign his orders and cease to function as a priest.

      With regard to your second point, many would argue, myself included, that numerous women have already been ordained as ‘catholic priests’. Once again, what you mean is as ‘Roman Catholic priests’. It obviously won’t happen under this current Pope but, sooner or later it will. What you call ‘fundamental theology’, by which you mean I presume, the belief that only a male can stand in place of Christ at the Eucharist, is in my opinion, fundamentally flawed theology. Christ took the form of a man, but his sacrifice of himself upon the cross won salvation for both men & women.

      Finally, the Biblical verse you refer to in your final paragraph, is a call to the Thessalonian Christians to hold on to the truth of the Gospel, not the much later developed traditions & practices of the Roman Catholic Church.

  • Catholic (with a capital C) means Catholic Church – those in communion with the Pope, regardless of rite. 😉

    Priests and marriage is a discipline, a practice; exceptions can be made, and this may be subject to change in the future. Who knows. Not women priests, though.

    The issue with women priests is fundamentally tied to the theology of the body, work done extensively by Pope JP2. It essentially says that Christ, in His human form as a man, symbolically “impregnated” the Church with grace and the Holy Spirit. This is also the reason we call God the Father a father; He “impregnated” creation. The Church at large is symbolic of a woman’s role in the sexual union; to nurture, grow, and feed the union. A woman acting “in persona Christi” cannot, theologically and symbolically, achieve this. Women, by their nature, do not impregnate; therefore, having a woman represent Christ, in this role, cannot be justified from a theological standpoint.

    The Catholic Church DOES hold a special place for women, however. This is not exclusionary by any means; rather, it acknowledges the unique gifts and characteristics of women. One has to look no further than devotions to Mary to see the kind of honor and esteem the RCC places on women.

    Those holding out hope to see women ordained as RCC priests are doing so in vain. Whether or not people think it’s flawed is irrelevant; it’s just not gonna happen.

    Last, the truth of the Gospel (as we know it in its Biblical form) did not fully mature for about 300 after Christ and the Apostles. As John 20:30 tells us, only some of it was actually written. The things practised were passed down verbally, and matured into the Tradition (with a capital T) of the RCC.

    Thanks for the discussion!

    • Ricky

      Bill – The usurping of the words ‘Catholic Church’ by the Roman Catholic Church is somewhat arrogant & annoys many of us. Of course, the official position of the Roman Catholic Church is that it alone is ‘the Catholic Church’. Many people, including many practising Roman Catholics, would disagree with that view.

      Likewise, whilst you state that having ordained female priests, ‘cannot be justified from a theological standpoint’, what you actually mean is that it, ‘cannot be justified from your theological standpoint’. Just because what you outline is based on the teaching of Pope John Paul II doesn’t make it right. Just as many Roman Catholics do not believe in papal infallibility, neither as an Anglican priest, do I!

      Regarding your last paragraph, the truth of the Gospel is found in scripture alone. Various Church traditions grew up during the first few centuries AD, based as far as possible on scripture, and adopted to cope with the rapid numerical growth of the Church. Once more, it is very arrogant to claim that all the present-day traditions & practices of the Roman Catholic Church come down directly from the Apostles.

  • John


    Thanks for the article on this – I just came across this and you provided some good information to it. As a practicing RC, I would say that I am much closer to you than to Bill. Anyone who thinks a pope’s teaching should be given special attention just because a pope did it should read the papal history – there were some very interesting characters there (and some even believe some female ones).

    I was educated by Jesuits and I always felt that if RC church teaching changed to allow married or female clergy, the Jesuits would have the first ceremony before the pope could finish his sentence.

    I’ll have to come back to see your other writings – hope you have a Blessed Easter.


    • Ricky

      John – Welcome to my blog – I’m glad you found my post informative. Just to reassure you, I think most ‘practicing RCs’, will be much closer to me & you, rather than to Bill!

      Sadly, but not unsurprisingly, the Pfarrer Initiative got firmly rejected today by the Pope. See this news report from the BBC .

      Change will come to the RC Church, otherwise it will become a very small minority Church. The only issue is the timescale.

  • Backwards is the “protests” of these pseudo priests. Sad how this has become a raise of popularity. As Christ was not popular, so his Bride won’t be popular. As a woman I really don’t get the obsession of women to become priests and their disappointment. To all you, go read what Saint Theresa of Avila wrote about it, and if you are a woman, start to rejoice for the greater gift was given to you. One nature in two forms, for the union and communion in a sincere gift of itself to the other. The rest are mundane visions, go to the Lutherans, Anglicans and similar if you seek acceptance and “modernity”.

    • Ricky

      Cecilia – I assume you’ve arrived here because of what the Pope said about the Pfarrer Initiative in his Maundy Thursday homily. I’ve had a massive rise in hits on this blog yesterday & today, thanks to him 🙂 Those supporting the Pfarrer Initiative are not ‘pseudo priests’ but ordained RC priests. None have been disciplined or suspended, no doubt because the RC Church in Austria cannot afford to lose more than 10% of its priests. Like Bill whose comments appear earlier here, you are entitled to your view. But the vast majority of practicing Roman Catholics, particularly in Europe and North America, would not agree with you & want to see the sort of reforms that the Pfarrer Initiative are calling for.

  • Daddy Dan from Brooklyn

    “Supposedly” celibate priests … So true! The local hierarchy turns a blind eye to sexually active priests in secret adult relationships because the church does not want to lose another warm body. Bishops prefer to tolerate an aberrant priest who behaves as if he is a promiscuous bachelor on the DL rather than deal with a married clergy.

  • Daddy Dan from Brooklyn

    Ricky, This is an awesome site … I’d luv to keep the channels open to shed light on one of the worst kept secrets in the RC Church: sexually active priests who, if not married and therefore “celibate” technically, justify behavior that is not compatible with chastity, I.e. screwing around on the sly while being in denial.-DD.

    • Ricky

      DD – Be careful with your language otherwise you won’t get comments approved 🙂 What I referred to in my post are not promiscuous priests, (though I’m sure there are a few), but what the Pfarrer Initiative describes as those who live ‘in a permanent relationship’. This is often known both locally & frequently, also by the hierarchy as well. The point I am making is that it would be far more honest to allow these priests to marry rather than let their hypocritical situation continue, which is what I understand those behind the Pfarrer Initiative also want to happen.

  • @Bill

    Using the word ‘catholic/Catholic’ exclusively to describe the Roman Catholic Church leaves quite a few denominations out that carry that word in their official name, like the:

    Old Catholic Church
    Ukrainian Catholic Church
    Coptic Catholic Church
    Chaldean Catholic Church
    Catholic Apostolic Church
    Greek Catholic Churches
    Liberal Catholic Church
    Anglican Catholic Church
    Anglo-Lutheran Catholic Church
    Armenian Catholic Church
    Belarusian Greek Catholic Church
    Bulgarian Catholic Church
    Croatian Greek Catholic Church
    Ethiopian Catholic Church
    Georgian Catholic Church
    Hungarian Greek Catholic Church
    Italo-Albanian/Italo-Greek Catholic Church
    Macedonian Catholic Church
    Maronite Catholic Church
    Melkite Catholic Church
    Romanian Catholic Church
    Russian Catholic Church
    Ruthenian Catholic Church (usually called the “Byzantine Catholic Church” in the United States)
    Slovak Greek Catholic Church
    Syrian Catholic Church
    Syro-Malankara Catholic Church
    Apostolic Catholic Church
    American Catholic Church in the United States
    Brazilian Catholic Apostolic Church
    Catholic Charismatic Church of Canada
    Celtic Catholic Church
    Free Catholic Church
    Old Catholic Church of America
    Palmarian Catholic Church
    Polish National Catholic Church
    True Catholic Church
    Arian Catholic Church

    to name just a few …

    Some of them are indeed in full communion with Rome, but some are not. It also excludes those of us that, like me, use the term ‘catholic’ to describe a certain style of churchmanship, or, in my case ‘churchwomanship’ that is defined by a love of liturgy and devotion to the sacraments inside a protestant Church, the C of E in my case … Therefore I, and many others, call themselves ‘Anglo-Catholic’ which doesn’t mean we are Roman Catholics that speak English 😉 So, yes, as Rick pointed it out already, reserving the term c/Catholic only for Roman Catholics misses completely the meaning of the word which translates as ‘universal’ and is, by no stretch of imagination, reserved for the use by one single denomination. Catholics, in the true sense of the word, should be all Christians, as we belong to the one, true, universal and invisible Church of God, regardless of the sad divisions we have here on earth …

    As for RC’s who are priests and married.’It requires special permission from the Bishop, but it does happen here in the US.’ Again, as Rick pointed out, that are priests that change over to Rome from another Church and have been previously married. According to the Roman Catholic Canon law (western / Latin rite), NO ordained deacon/priest is allowed to marry and remain a deacon/priest (permanent deacons have to be married before being ordained and can never become priests). But I always did wonder why there was no louder outcry from their ‘celibate’ colleagues about this … It seems pure hypocrisy to me that on one hand married priests from other Churches that have become Roman Catholics are welcome and allowed to work as priests whilst it is strictly forbidden for Roman Catholic priests of the western / Latin rite to get married in the first place …

    As for women priests, see my answer to Cecilia below 😉

    As a woman, a Christian of the protestant tradition and as somebody that worked, for years, closely with and inside the Roman Catholic Church, I have to disagree with pretty much everything you wrote!

    ‘… As a woman I really don’t get the obsession of women to become priests and their disappointment. To all you, go read what Saint Theresa of Avila wrote about it, and if you are a woman, start to rejoice for the greater gift was given to you. One nature in two forms, for the union and communion in a sincere gift of itself to the other…”’

    As a woman I can’t for the life and soul of me cope with the role model the Roman Catholic Church offers to women. At the beatification of Pierina Morosini, Pope John Paul II said ‘better to be a dead virgin than a rape survivor’.

    As for St.Teresa de Avila, she lived in the 16th century, at a time, for example, when slavery was considered ‘just’ and being the will of God by the Churches. Things have changed – we don’t believe anymore that any human has the right to possess another human or that the earth is flat. Churches have changed in the 80 generations since Christ and I hope and pray that they continue to do so as the Holy Spirit didn’t stop working suddenly in one point in time. The early Church (prior to Constantine) indeed had women deacons and most likely, also women priests, so refusing ordination to women today is actually a step backward …

  • Hi Ricky,

    First (a little late): Happy Easter.

    I find it great that you keep up the work on your blog. I think it is also fine that a lot of people discuss the important themes which we are working on in Austria.

    We find it rather encouraging, that the Pope is now discussing with us (he didn’t forbid our group in any way) and also that when he says “the slow pace of institutions has to be overcome by drastic measures, in order to open up new paths and to bring the Church up to date” he seems to concede that this is necessary… although he does not agree with our word “disobedience”

    Regards from Vienna

    • Ricky

      Hi Hans,

      Fröhliche Ostern

      Thank you once more for your kind words. As you may have realised from the number of recent comments here, this blogpost has received a large number of hits ever since the Pope’s comments in his Maundy Thursday homily about your Pfarrer Initiative. My blogpost is one of the few articles available in English on the subject.

      I’m glad that you and your colleagues regard what the Pope said as ‘encouraging’. As you say, he has not forbidden your activities even though he doesn’t agree with them. One could be cynical and say that he and Cardinal Schönborn, cannot afford to lose over 10% of the Austrian Roman Catholic clergy! However, there does seem to be some recognition in what he says, of the need for the RC Church to change. Let us hope and pray that this will mark the beginning of the dialogue you have long been asking for.