EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

June 27, 2013

O'Malley nixes Austrian priest's talk about ordaining women, optional celibacy at parish


The Eagle-Tribune

---- — BOSTON (AP) — Cardinal Sean O’Malley banned an Austrian priest from speaking at a parish because the priest advocates ordaining woman and making celibacy for priests optional.

The Rev. Helmut Schuller was scheduled to speak at Saint Susanna Parish in Dedham on July 17 as part of 15-city U.S. tour. His talk has been moved to a nearby Unitarian Universalist church, The Boston Globe reported Wednesday.

Terry Donilon, a spokesman for the archdiocese, said in a statement that the archdiocese’s policy is “not to permit individuals to conduct speaking engagements in Catholic parishes or at church events when those individuals promote positions that are contrary to Catholic teachings.”

Schuller is founder of the Austrian Priests’ Initiative, which advocates allowing women and married people to become priests as a way to address a global priest shortage. The initiative organized a “Call to Disobedience,” which was signed two years by several hundred priests who pledged, among other things, to begin serving communion to non-Catholics, promote women’s ordination and let trained laity preach.

Schuller’s appearance in Dedham was sponsored by a coalition of Catholic groups, including the lay group Voice of the Faithful and FutureChurch, which advocates opening ordination to all baptized Catholics.

FutureChurch’s executive director, Sister Chris Schenk, said she had expected O’Malley to be more sympathetic about Schuller’s appearance, because he is dealing with the “ravages” of the priest shortage.

“Laypeople have to be able to have a voice and a venue to talk about their honest concerns and questions, and to just refuse any Catholic venue for this conversation to take place sends a very, very sad message,” she said.