25Jun Boston Cardinal O’Malley bans touring Austrian priest from parish

The first American speaking tour of a reform-minded Austrian priest has hit its first snag.

Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley says Fr. Helmut Schüller can’t speak on archdiocesan property, forcing a rescheduling of the Boston leg of his 15-city tour, which begins July 15.

Last week, Boston Auxiliary Bishop Walter Edyvean called St. Susanna Parish — Schüller’s scheduled speaking stop for July 17 — to inform them that O’Malley had ruled that “Father Schüller could not speak at any Catholic parish because he espouses beliefs that are contrary to the teachings of the Catholic church,” according to parish Deacon Larry Bloom.

Schüller’s talk will be moved to the First Church of Dedham, a Unitarian Universalist church down the street, Bloom wrote in an email to NCR Monday.

Schüller is founder of the Austrian Priests’ Initiative, a group of Austrian priests pushing for institutional reforms in the Catholic church. The group issued an “Appeal to Disobedience” in 2011, calling for (among other things) admission of women and married people to the Catholic priesthood.
St. Susanna tends to attract parishioners with a lot of questions, so “we often have speakers who represent various, sometimes controversial, points of view,” wrote Bloom, who serves as director of adult faith formation for the parish.

“This, however, is the first time in my eleven years at the parish that we have actually been told we could not allow someone to speak at the parish,” Bloom wrote. “We did not expect that the talk on parish property would be prohibited, but we were not shocked and proceeded calmly to complete a resolution.”

In a statement released Monday, organizers of Schüller’s speaking tour, titled “The Catholic Tipping Point,” called O’Malley’s decision “distressing.”

“Cardinal O’Malley’s action is particularly distressing since it is taken by one of the eight cardinals appointed to help reform Church governance,” they said in the statement. “This attempt to suppress these long overdue discussions is a disservice to Christ’s body.”

The tour, sponsored by 12 progressive Catholic organizations, will begin in New York City and travel across the country to California and Seattle, ending Aug. 7 back in Long Island, N.Y. Find out more about the tour.

[Kate Simmons is an NCR Bertelsen intern. Her email address is ksimmons@ncronline.org.]

13 Responses

  1. Pól Ó Duibhir

    Back to the future.

  2. John

    Ownership and management of church buildings should be vested in those who pay to build an maintain them.

  3. Wanderer

    There’s the satisfaction of knowing they could have used their millions for the massive doses of Prep H they are going to need for the the raised blood pressures following the over ruling of DOMA and Prop 8 in the US.

  4. Brendan Butler

    According to the Cardinal Archbishop of Boston Sean O Malley Father Schuller ‘ espouses beliefs that are contrary to the catholic Church’ . So the response of this man who could have been Pope is to attempt to silence his voice , The proper attitude of the cardinal would have been to attend the talk and properly listen to what Fr. Schuller actually says rather than scapegoating him as a outsider. During his visitation here in Dublin a few of us spent over an hour with him and he seemed to listen to our critique of our Church . In retrospect we should have kept our mouths shut as he seemed to have become more entrenched than ever after the irish visitation. We must keep on throwing our little pebbles at the walls of silence -eventually some pebble with the guidance of the Spirit will find a way through.
    However , right now it seems that this hope is as futile as some pie in the sky which is unattainable .

  5. Darlene Starrs

    Your reflection Brendan is echoed by myself. I was just pondering the realization that while there are these “pebbles” being thrown at the wall, in many places, around the Universal Church….the silence remains….For me, it’s like the fire of renewal is smouldering in not too few places, and especially in Ireland…however, it will be a very long time before the ‘smouldering’ is an inferno!….I think more weariness will be the order of the day inspite of the light of Francis!

  6. Christine Lynch

    The Unitarian Church seemed to be the perfect venue under the circumstances.

  7. Iggy O Donovan

    It was the same Cardinal O Malley who boycotted the Taoiseach’s visit to Boston College, thus giving Enda Kenny ten times the publicity he would otherwise have recieved. This man’s judgement is suspect to say the least.
    Iggy O Donovan

  8. drwho13

    (2) John I’m with you; “Ownership and management of church buildings should be vested in those who pay to build and maintain them.”

    The problem is that under a monarchy the bishop owns the whole place. We would need a major “Catholic Spring” to get that changed. The system is rigged so that the bishops hold all the cards. It’s best just to go elsewhere in body, mind, and soul. I’m tired of waiting my life on what RC bishops have to say, so I’m moving on, and moving out.

  9. John

    Power, money and property : Concentration of the ownership of these at the centre is the backdrop of many campaigns for reform. We have a story now about the jailing of a Vatican banker for fraud. Not the first such story about this wealthy institution!
    Peter’s Pence : The collection day was yesterday. This was an opportunity for people to resolve, if they wished, that they themselves would decide where their money was to be spent, rather than place the money in the hands of others and increase their power. One can give it, for instance, directly to an organisation working for justice in Africa rather than read in the paper that the Vatican was donating money. Does one need to donate money for the support of nunciatures when these institutions refuse to share decision making with church members? Better perhaps to share one’s money in such a way that the local church is built up, and priests who have been silenced are supported. The future of the church may well have less emphasis on church property, with the believers meeting in each others’ homes, as in the early church.

  10. ger gleeson

    drwhro13, please hang on in there. You are not the only one who thinks as you do. We must all do what we can to change the model of church. We must all keep in mind that it is OUR CHURCH, prist’s and people.

  11. Wanderer

    drwhi13, are you saying you are leaving the Church cause of that ‘shower of vermin’ – as we say here ?

    I hope you won’t. It’s your church as much and more than theirs. Ger, is right, you are by no means the only one to feel as you do. Totally disgusted, frustrated, betrayed, want to slit the throats of a few dead things and shout some words beginning with ‘F’.

    Don’t give them the satisfaction or permission to degrade you in any way.

    I was reminded again recently in another context how spiritual abuse/s blind us to beauty. We can only seem to see the rot and filth all around – and it pulls us down with it. I think it was mentioned on the thread I had there – about “only wounded soldiers can serve in the service of Love”.

    They have abused and take too much already. Don’t give anymore.

    Look to the great beauty there is in the Church too – the spirituality. Feed off that for a time. And that lot in Rome, render unto Caesar. 99% of the people on this island – or perhaps the world, could care less what that lot think about anything – very often because they know they don’t think with any degree of real humanity or common sense.

    Your faith and practice of it is about God, your self and your neighbour – not the pharisees.

    Take care and God bless


  12. Maureeen Mulvaney

    I can’t believe that this is the reaction of Cardinal O’ Malley’s response to Fr. Helmut’s tour to speak in his diocese. When Cardinal O’Malley was here on his visitation, 20 of us representing Parish Councils met him to present our views of what we felt needed changed in our Church and the damage caused by the cover- up of the child sexual abuse. We honestly thought he was there to listen and bring our responses to the Vatican. How naieve we were. Yes, Brendan @ no. 4 and Darlene @no. 5 have echoed my same response and thoughts. I too, heard Fr. Helmut speak at that gathering of the ACP and what a dynamic speaker! When will they ever LEARN????????????

  13. Darlene Starrs

    It surprises me that in a country where “freedom of speech” was so fought for….that the parishioners just layed down and died and let this man, Cardinal O’Malley decide for them, what they could or could not hear. Once again, the people are treated like children. The people continue to be bullied and do not seem to even recognize that. It also says, that those who have different ideas from Rome and their princes are sure to continue to experience persecution. This persecution is against those who are also the Body of Christ.
    As I say, renewal and reform will continue to smoulder…and while those who would persecute the ‘reformer’, reminiscent of how Jesus was persecuted by the religious leaders of His day, hopefully, the Holy Spirit continues to lead and to inspire the renewal. Those who oppose someone like Father Schuller must believe that there is absolutely no support for change from God. That is ludicrous, and we need to be aware of the scripture that says: “Woe to you, who would be a stumbling block for the Son of Man”. While not all reform is of God…some of it is…and it is not wise to dismiss, or persecute all the reformers!

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