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Life Arts

Fresh Air from an Austrian Priest

By       Message Suzana Megles     Permalink
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I admired, respected, and loved Blessed Pope John XXIII.   He was my idea of a true leader of the Catholic Church.   He was famous for ushering in the Second Vatican II Council-- hoping to bring fresh air into a church that badly needed  it.  Sadly, he didn't live to see his reforms instituted. And  I don't believe that the two Popes who followed him tried or  even wanted to institute them.  

Pope Francis has declared him a saint based on his merits  of opening the Second Vatican Council --thereby bypassing the  traditionally required second miracle.  Both he and John  Paul II are expected to be canonised by the end of 2013.

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I believe that Pope Francis seems to be of the same ilk as  the roly poly John XXIII.  For a certainty, his style is  winning many hearts.  I can't tell you the surprise and  happiness I experienced when I found out that he had  chosen the name Francis.  I only pray that he will try to  live up to the charismas and legacies of this beautiful and  compassionate saint. 

It seems to me that the Franciscan Order has not embraced  Francis' love and concern for ALL God's creatures, which includes  the animals. Whether Pope Francis will is yet to be seen, but  I have genuine hope that he will.  


This past week I was delighted to learn that Father Helmut  Schuller of Austria had given a talk to 150 attentive but  basically subdued listeners at the Cleveland City Club. I so  admired him for doing this because, in my opinion, Cleveland  is basically conservative in their views.  However, this was  his second talk in the area.  The night before this, the 6 0-year- old priest had addressed 500 people in Independence, Ohio.

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He was invited to a three-week, 15-city tour in the United  States sponsored by 10 U.S. liberal Catholic reform groups,  which included Lakewood-based FutureChurch.  Sr. Chritine Schenk  is the executive director of FutureChurch and she said she  supports Schuller's message because it contains the same  issues her group and the other liberal organizations believe in. 

Schuller's message is called "The Catholic Tipping Point."  The Austrian priest told the Cleveland City Club audience that while  female priests, married priests, and same-sex marriage tolerance  may not be compatible with the present Roman Catholic church's  teachings, these reformations to church doctrine are possible  solutions for the growing priest shortage. 

He will not be visiting either Detroit or Boston because sadly  both have banned him from their Catholic churches.  How disappointing  that Boston's Cardinal Sean O'Malley who was born in Lakewood, a  suburb of Cleveland, rejected Schuller because he said his beliefs  oppose the church's doctrines.  In my opinion, he has so little  vision and concern for people becaue he fails to see the need to  incorporate new doctrines as the Spirit moves. 

I am very happy that Schuller had not been banned in Cleveland.   I hope that he has sparked some serious thinking on the issues  he has raised here and in the other cities where he will speak.  

Of his talk Sr. Christine Schenk reflected: "We have many men and  women called to priesthood, but they're denied because they're married,  they want to have a family, or they are women.  There's no shortage  of vocations, but we have a shortage of vision." 

At this juncture, I would have reminded the audience that the Byzantine  Catholics had married priests and also raised families. My sisters  and I were baptised by a married priest who had a daughter.  

As for women priests - up until the 16th century there had been women  deaconesses.  They should never have disbanded this beautiful calling. 

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The reporter of the Cleveland Plain Dealer did not give us a general  feeling of how the talk went-- which, in my opinion, was like a much- needed blast of fresh air.  Were the attendees receptive and ready for  his call to reform? 

I admired him for taken on this subject, which should b e embraced by  a church that claims to follow Jesus Christ.  I think it all boils  down to how we perceive Jesus.  Do we see Him embracing a male-dominated  church that refuses to budge an inch from their conservative views?

Do we see Him condoning the heavy hand of church leaders last year-- accusing the Sisters of trying to undermine the church with their  social concerns for the poor instead of helping them with their  conservative agenda. Strange.  They give no positions of authority  to the Sisters who have dedicated their lives to Christ as have they,  but expect them to walk lock-step with their agendas.

I wish Father Helmut Schuller much success in his compassionate  endeavors.  We do need to here from people of faith like him  who are working to address the needs of the church that embraces  all the followers of Jesus Christ.   


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I have been concerned about animal suffering ever since
I received my first puppy Peaches in 1975. She made me take a good look at the animal kingdom and I was shocked to see how badly we treat so many animals. At 77, I've been a vegan for the (more...)

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