Pope tells Austrian bishops to stay close to priests after reform calls

05 February 2014 | by Christa Pongratz-Lippitt

Pope Francis brought up the subject of the Austrian Priests’ Initiative (API) and its Call to Disobedience of his own accord during the Austrian bishops’ ad limina visit at the end of January.

Speaking to Kathpress, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna said he had told the Pope that only a “very small percentage” of Austrian priests had signed the API’s “Call to Disobedience” but the Pope had then advised the bishops to “stay close to their priests”.

API spokesman, Fr Helmut Schüller, accused the cardinal of downplaying the number of members who signed the “Call to Disobedience”. What Schönborn had told the Pope was “not correct”, Fr Schüller told the Austrian Press Association.

Around 10 per cent of Austrian priests had signed the “Call to Disobedience”, he said, adding that a “majority of Austrian Catholics” agree with the API’s demands for church reform.

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