Friday, July 26, 2013

Helmut Schüller

Fr. Helmut Schüller speaking on the calling of all the baptised to have co-responsibility, co-decision, and co-formation („Berufung aller Getauften zu Mitverantwortung, Mitentscheidung und Mitgestaltung“ ) in the life of the Church.

The Viennese born pastor, Helmut Schüller, is in the middle of a fifteen city speaking tour [click] across the United States and back again. Cleveland is city number seven. Thursday night he spoke to more than four hundred people at Independence Middle School, the next day he is to speak in downtown Cleveland. Ten different Catholic groups are sponsoring his tour. In Cleveland, the primary host is Future Church.

Father Schüller is a figure of prominence in his homeland. In 2006, he and Fr. Udo Fischer presented the Pfarrer-Initiative (Pastor Initiative) after concern over parish mergers and other matters. In 2011, a Call to Disobedience was made. The points of those two he elaborated in his local visit.

He compared the Councils of Vatican I and II. In the former an absolutist monarchy was described, in the latter (especially in the document, Lumen Gentium) the People of God were rediscovered by the hierarchy. The Communion of believers, the celebration of the Eucharist, and Solidarity with the People of God is central in the Church. Now we are in a period where much of Vatican II has been negated by absolutist bishops. Paul VI called for a Lex Ecclesiae Fundamentalis, Canonical Constitution of the Church. This was to come with the new Canon Law of 1983. It was not favored by John Paul II. This would have been akin to the United Nations Declaration of Rights in 1948, but for all citizens of the Church.

To-day we have two classes in the Church: one makes demands, and the other is to be obedient. On this Fr. Schüller is adamant, "obedience is misused and abused to keep people down", and "we as Germans know there has been more victims of obedience than disobedience". An accountability of  those that are in the hierarchy is needed, they need to be governed by laws, by a constitution. Abbots (who are equal in office to a bishop) are subject to a rule, and to election of members of the monastery, and can be removed.

The crowd was pleased with his belief (and that of the majority of German priests) that the priestly ministry should be opened up to married men, even more so when he made comments approving the justice of having women priests. Perhaps this was the favorite topic for this audience.

Fr. Schüller had many quotable sentences. He unnecessarily apologised for having an Austrian accented English, but Cleveland is an ethnic town of many accented people (if not the audience, then their parents and grandparents). It is not an Austrian accent that troubles us, it is a Boston accent.

He has found in the United States, the bishopry holding greater power than that which he was familiar with, and which would not be possible in Austria. Most American bishops control the incomes and welfare of their priests. Also, he was to have had a meeting with local Cleveland priests in a parish. Bishop Lennon's secretary told the hosting pastor, "No". So in America, new opportunities for ecumenism are made. That meeting took place on a Protestant property instead, as have several of the public speaking sites on the tour.
Sr. Christine Schenk, Fr. Helmut Schüller holding knotted red ribbons (in the spirit of Pentecost) to be given to the Abp. of  New York City, Timothy Dolan (Pres. Amer. Bishops' Conf.) for the inclusion of the laity in the administration of the Church.  Independence (Cleveland) Ohio.  25 July 2013.

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