NOVEMBER 15, 2014
woman “priest” “ministering” at Austrian Benedictine monastery
Donna vescovo: Chiesa complice in Austria?
November 5, 2014
Una donna prete (e vescovo) che è stata scomunicata undici anni fa in Austria partecipa regolarmente – una volta ogni quindici giorni, da anni – a cerimonie liturgiche presso i Benedettini, a Kremsmunster, il più antico monastero dell’ordine del Paese. I vescovi non hanno preso nessun provvedimento. La Congregazione per i Religiosi non ne sa niente? I superiori dell’Abbazia dicono di essere sorpresi dall’articolo del Telegraph, e di non saperne niente.
Una donna prete (e vescovo) che è stata scomunicata undici anni fa in Austria partecipa regolarmente – una volta ogni quindici giorni – a cerimonie liturgiche presso i Benedettini. Questo accade in Austria, e il vescovo del luogo, a quanto pare, non ha niente da dire al proposito. La notizia viene dal Daily Telegraph. Un cronista è andato a parlare con Christine Mayr-Lumetzberger, e gli sono state mostrate fotografie in cui la si vede mentre presiede a cerimonie liturgiche nelle chiese cattoliche dell’Austria, fianco a fianco con un prete cattolico durante una processione per un funerale e all’altare del monastero di Kremsmunster.
I superiori dell’Abbazia dicono di essere sorpresi dall’articolo del Telegraph, e di non saperne niente. Non si esclude che le foto siano state prese in qualche chiesa dipendente dall’abbazia, tempo fa.
Nel 2002 Mayr-Lumetzberger e sei altre cattoliche decisero di farsi ordinare: “Avevo sentito la chiamata di Dio al sacerdozio sin da quando ero bambina – ha detto al Telegraph – e volevo diventare prete prima di morire. Sarebbe stato impossibile se avessi aspettato che i preti maschi decidessero”.
Furono scomunicate, ma in seguito si portò la sfida a un nuovo livello, e Mayr si fece ordinare vescovo da “più di un vescovo che si trova in buoni rapporti con Roma. E’ stata la loro idea, non la mia”. Non fa il nome dei vescovi implicati, nel timore che possano subire sanzioni da Roma.
La donna sostiene che “la maggior parte dei preti cattolici in Austria sono molto gentili, mi chiamano signora vescovo”. E mostra numerose fotografie di se stessa, in vesti liturgiche vescovili, mentre celebra battesimi, matrimoni e funerali in chiese cattoliche in tutta l’Austria.
Negli ultimi dieci anni l’ha fatto ogni due settimane, all’altare del più antico convento benedettino dell’Austria. Kresmunster. E a quanto sembra i vescovi non hanno preso nessuna misura.
Adesso si attende che il Prefetto della Congregazione per i Religiosi, il brasiliano Braz De Aviz, così fermo e severo con i Francescani dell’Immacolata per ragioni ancora tenute rigorosamente segrete, manifesti la sua presenza.
Where’s the Prefect?
Woman “priest” at altar of Benedictine monastery in Austria for 10 years?
Posted on 5 November 2014 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf
I saw a piece by the intrepid Marco Tosatti of La Stampa about a “wedding” in Austria that was witnessed at a Benedictine monastery in Kremsmunster, by a woman “priest” (wymyn pryst).
The wymyn was excommunicated 11 years ago, but she regularly participates at liturgical ceremonies with the Benedictines and has done so for 10 years. Apparently every two weeks she does something or other at the one of the altars of the abbey.
The bishop of the place apparently hasn’t said anything about this situation.
And so one needs to ask the question, along with Tosatti:
Now we wait for the Prefect of the Congregation for Religious, the Brasilian Braz De Aviz, so firm and severe with the Franciscans of the Immaculate*, for reasons that are still kept rigorously secrete, to manifest his presence.
Does silence imply consent?
-There were 26 responses to this blog by Fr. Z
*http://wdtprs.com/blog/2013/08/update-franciscan-friars-of-the-immaculate-and-restrictions-on-the-tlm/ Aug 24, 2013:
Restrictions on the use of the provisions of Summorum Pontificum were placed on the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate by the Congregation for Religious. [EXTRACT]
*http://wdtprs.com/blog/2014/06/catholic-identity-and-you/ June 25, 2014:
Vaticanista Marco Tosatti who writes for La Stampa drills into the travails of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate. HERE (My translation [Fr. Z’s comments in red color] 🙂
In sum, in the absence of serious and grave reasons [behind the treatment of the FFIs] I have to think that we are dealing with an internal war, waged in the Pope’s name, with the cruelty characteristic of closed environments and of all that touches on the liturgy. In the guise of mercy. But beyond the exemplary case of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate, there has been a proliferation of individual cases, small things and less small, which make someone who is experienced with the ecclesiastical world, think that there has been set in motion an undeclared process [NB: “processo” has also an overtone of “trial” or “proceeding” – images such as kangaroo court and star chamber popped into my mind as I hit that phrase. And then there is a classic phrase “undeclared war”.], but, even so, not any less effective. One might think that the Pope doesn’t love all that has to do with traditionalism, and in particular with liturgy; and that, even if he officially defends the decisions of John Paul II and of Benedict XVI in this vein, certainly choices of openness toward that world [of traditionalism], deep down he has different sensibilities. END [EXTRACT]
Meet the female priest defying Catholicism for her faith
By Peter Stanford, November 4, 2014
Eleven years ago, Christine Mayr-Lumetzberger was excommunicated from the Catholic faith for being ordained as a priest. Peter Stanford meets her, and hears about the hundreds of exiles practising the world over
Excommunication is traditionally reserved by Catholicism for the very worst of sinners, and is a sanction rarely invoked today. So I’m expecting an encounter with a fire-breathing radical when I meet Christine Mayr-Lumetzberger. The 58-year-old Austrian ex-nun, who made headlines when she was barred from the sacraments by Rome in 2003, is in London to attend an international gathering of “renewed” Catholic organisations.
What I get, though, confounds all expectations. Mild-mannered and softly-spoken, if not slightly mumsy, she wants to talk not about her stand-off with the church that no longer wants her as a member, but about the common ground she shares with it in her faith-based work near Linz with the sick, the bereaved and those on the margins.
But what is undeniably shocking about Mayr-Lumetzberger to the eyes of this cradle Catholic is the dog collar and clerical shirt she is wearing. Shocking because women priests – though long since embraced in most Protestant denominations and now the norm in Anglicanism too – are not only forbidden in Catholicism (because, it insists, Jesus was a man, chose male apostles, and a male priest stands in the place of a male Jesus) but, Pope John Paul II instructed the faithful in 1994, are a subject that must not even be discussed.
In 2002, Mayr-Lumetzberger and six other devout Catholic women chose to flout what they saw as a stifling blanket ban. “I had felt called by God to priesthood since I was a small child,” she says simply, “and I wanted to be a priest before I died. If I waited for the male priesthood to allow that, it would be impossible.”
Rather than collect petitions, or carry on arguing their theological case, they felt driven they had no option left other than to take direct action. They were ordained by an Argentinean Catholic bishop, Antonio Braschi, well-known to his countryman, Pope Francis, but out-of-step with Rome. Because they chose to hold the ceremony on a river boat on the Danube – to avoid preying eyes and the sort of media circus that surrounded singer Sinead O’Connor’s self-styled ordination in Lourdes 1999 – the women were christened the “Danube Seven”.
Rome’s reaction was predictably icy. They received an order to recant. What else had Mayr-Lumetzberger expected? “They might have wanted to talk to us, listen to why we did what we did”.
She’s certainly an optimist, but is she also a natural rebel? “Me, no.” She laughs at the thought. “I’d rather be seen as a prophet. I’m doing the right thing, only a little bit too early.” There is steel behind the benign exterior.
Prophets are, of course, without honour in their own country, the Bible instructs, and Mayr-Lumetzberger and the other six women were summarily excommunicated. She then took defiance to a new level and was consecrated as a bishop by “more than one bishop who was in good standing with Rome. It was their idea not mine.”
She has always refused to name the male bishops involved in case they suffer the Vatican’s wrath for exceeding their authority. Her reticence undeniably weakens her case, but it also points to the grit in her story. With excommunication, her protest should have petered out, but it hasn’t. Instead, others from within the church, including bishops, have lined up to egg her on to even greater defiance. “Most Catholic priests in Austria,” she says, “are very nice to me. They call me ‘Mrs Bishop’. And they show me respect”.
And this time we don’t have to take her word for it. On her laptop – decorated with a red rose – “Mrs Bishop” has file after file of pictures of herself, in full episcopal robes, performing baptisms, marriages and funerals in Catholic churches up and down Austria – and beyond. She’s being doing one every two weeks for the past decade, she estimates. In the snaps, she’s there on the altar at Kremsmunster, the oldest Benedictine monastery in Austria, with the congregation spread out in front of her. Or leading a long funeral procession side-by-side into another church with a male priest.
So they accept her as one of them? “Yes.” And suffer no consequences from their bishops for sharing their pulpits an excommunicated woman? “No, never once.”
One of the key themes in the Synod on the Family in Rome is the yawning gap between Catholic teaching and what actually goes on in Catholic parishes and lives on such questions as divorce, contraception and homosexuality. Christine Mayr-Lumetzberger is highlighting another.
And she is not alone. In Canada, America, South Africa, Spain, France, Italy, Germany and Austria, there are, she estimates, hundreds of women priests, some ordained by her, all in the active ministry, plus a dozen other women bishops who have followed in her pioneering footsteps. They are all part of the Roman Catholic Women Priests movement. Far from being exiles from the mainstream Catholic community, they’re busy serving it, at its very heart. It is a seamless garment.
Christine Mayr grew up in a strongly Catholic home in an Austria where 75 per cent of the population still professes itself Catholic. As a child, she recalls, she knew the mass texts by heart, but wasn’t even allowed, because of her gender, to be an official altar server. In 1970, she went into a convent run by the Benedictines of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. “Their work was as helpers to priests,” she recalls. “I still see myself today as a helper to priests”.
This was a time of great reform in Catholicism, prompted by the Second Vatican Council of the 1960s. She believed that, by signing on as a nun, she was putting herself at the front of the queue when women’s ordination finally was permitted. But the tide was already turning against such radical reform.
“Suddenly everything in the convent was forbidden and they started to open our letters, telling us to concentrate on our prayers.” She left in 1975, and worked as a religious education teacher, but when she fell in love with Michael, a divorced man with children – “he had already left his wife, I was never interested in other women’s husbands” – and then married him, she was barred from teaching in Catholic schools.
She never, though, lost her belief that God was calling her to the priesthood. After attending the European Women’s Synod at Gmunden in Austria 1996, she was inspired to work with a group of like-minded women on a theological and pastoral training for female priests. And then to implement it.
“I remember taking a copy of the programme we’d designed to my local bishop. I wanted him to share it with other bishops. He was a bit afraid, but he said to me, when are you going to stop just talking about this?’ It was like a light bulb had gone on. Women’s ordination needed real faces and real people to do it.”
That is what she sees herself as today – being a good example of how, quietly and diligently and where needed, women can be good and admired Catholic priests. “In June,” she recalls, “I was saying a funeral mass in his church with a very conservative Catholic priest I had known for 40 years. The family had asked for me. I only say mass in public if people ask for me. He was very concerned about how we should arrange it. I think he was a bit frightened.”
Of being found out by his bishop? “No, of me, but I try always to create a win-win situation. In the end he agreed that he would assist me. It’s become so normal. Some people want a woman priest because they believe we offer different things, that we can feel with them in a different way, that we can be easier with them than a man, that we can, for example, hold a grieving mother in a way that a male priest cannot”.
Excommunication, though, is surely a heavy price to pay. “It doesn’t touch me,” she says serenely. “The canon [church] law used against me was an unjust law made by celibate men who rule over people whose lives they do not really know, and who give no explanation as to why these negative laws should be followed. Except fear.”
Does that damning judgement extend to Pope Francis, currently prompting high hopes of many of the sort of changes she is also advocating – though he is not, it should be noted, in favour of female ordination?
“He’s working very hard to change things. It is difficult to start on that road. I hope the presence of people like me make it a little bit easier. The Catholic Church in general is good. It is just that it is blind in one eye.”
By way of illustration, she holds her hand up to cover half of her face. On her third finger, her bishop’s ring catches the light.
Marco Tosatti and Fr. John Zuhlsdorf want to know why the faithful, traditional Latin Mass-saying Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate were treated with such a heavy hand by Cardinal Braz De Aviz (and Pope Francis) the heretical women-priest Christine Mayr-Lumetzberger and her Benedictine male priest collaborators continue their activities unchecked and with impunity. There’s plenty on the Internet about the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate the in case a reader is interested to search
*First the friars, and now the sisters
Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate placed under visitation
May 20, 2014
reports that the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate, also founded by Fr. Stefano Manelli FI, has been placed under visitation by Cardinal Braz de Aviz. The visitation was announced on May 19 with immediate effect.
There’s another report in English, here.
Perhaps our readers remember that in December of last year, the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate had issued an official statement courageously attacking Fr. Volpi’s accusations against them as totally unfounded: a statement that has been all but ignored in the rush of certain sectors to justify every step and every measure taken against the Franciscans of the Immaculate.
This tragic news comes on the heels of Rorate’s reporting last week that a large number of Friars are seeking to be released from their pontifical vows (see here).
UPDATE. The following is a translation of the original Corrispondenza Romana report.
Many thanks to a reader of Rorate, Seamus O’Halloran.
Salus animarum suprema lex?
By Roberto de Mattei
There can be no further doubts for anyone who still had any. There exists a plan for the systematic destruction of the Franciscans of the Immaculate and Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate, the two Religious Institutes founded by Fr. Stefano Maria Manelli currently caught up in the storm.
On Monday 19 May 2014 João Cardinal Braz de Aviz, Prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life, informed the Superior General of the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate that he was to appoint, with immediate effect, a “Visitor” for the Institute with utmost powers which would make her a sort of “Commissar.” At the Generalate in Frattocchie near Rome, Sister Fernanda Barbiero of the Institute of the Sisters of St. Dorothy, a “grown-up” and “up-to-date” nun with moderately feminist tendencies and a follower (although somewhat later than all his other followers) of Jacques Maritain, has already been installed.
The Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate are a Religious Institute of Pontifical Right distinguished by its very young average age, high number of locations, and especially the strictness of their charism in accordance with the Rule of St. Francis. Many of them are living an intense missionary apostolate in Africa, Brazil, and the Philippines, and others are living the contemplative life in a spirit of asceticism and prayer. The Sisters, drawing inspiration from St. Maximilian Kolbe, run publishing houses, radio stations, and print many popular magazines. This great apostolate, together with their love for Tradition, is certainly one of the reasons for the hatred many feel towards the Sisters and towards their Confreres (the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate).
On 11 July 2013, Cardinal Braz de Aviz entrusted running of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate to an “Apostolic Commissar” who, in less than one year, has shattered the Order and forced some of the best Friars to ask for dispensation from their vows and to leave an Institute which now looks like a bomb site, and they have tried to live their vocation to the Priesthood elsewhere.
The situation for the Sisters is now even more serious. The pretext for the “visitation” and “commissioning” of the Friars was the presence of a tiny but highly aggressive group of “dissidents,” encouraged and fired up from the outside. There have been no dissidents among the Sisters, who have been living in a spirit of perfect Christian charity. Franciscan Friars and Sisters of the Immaculate are to be suppressed, mainly because they are so close to Tradition and are thus in conflict with the general procedure in other Institutes of Consecrated Life. I use the word “close” very guardedly, because these two Franciscan Congregations were born and live completely away from the “traditionalist” environment.
In the light of all the theological and pastoral disasters which came in the wake of Vatican II, they have shown their love for that orthodoxy which is in complete contrast with the prevailing doctrinal and liturgical creativity in today’s Church. The Congregation for Religious considers this “traditional” thinking with the church incompatible with any Vatican-II equivalent.
The Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life clearly committed an abuse of power when it forbade the Franciscans of the Immaculate from saying Mass according to the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite. And the Friars themselves committed another error by accepting that anyone could stop them saying the Tridentine Mass. They gave two reasons for accepting the ban: obedience and bi-ritualism. But the underlying problem cannot be brought down to mono-ritualism or bi-ritualism.
The fact remains that the traditional Mass was never abrogated and cannot be abrogated, and all priests are entitled to say it. This was set out by Benedict XVI in his Motu proprio Summorum Pontificum on 7 July 2007, where His Holiness gave every Priest the right to “celebrate the Sacrifice of the Mass following the typical edition of the Roman Missal, which was promulgated by Blessed John XXIII in 1962 and never abrogated, as an extraordinary form of the Church’s Liturgy.” This is the universal law of the Church, and merely confirms St Pius V’s Bull Quo primum (1570). No Priest has ever been punished for saying the traditional Mass, nor indeed could he be.
Layfolk and religious sisters cannot be forced to forgo a Rite which has been canonised by almost two thousand years of use by the Church.
Obedience is a virtue, probably the highest of all, about the problem in today’s Church is how this obedience is to be practised and who is to be obeyed. When obedience to instituted authority does not affect our spiritual life, but rather jeopardises it and puts our eternal salvation in danger, it must be rejected with all our energy; “we ought to obey God, rather than men” (Acts 5, 29).
Perhaps Cardinal Braz de Aviz wants to push the Sisters en masse into the Society of St. Pius X, and thus show that there is no room for “schismatic” traditionalists in the “post-conciliar” Church. If His Eminence did so, he would be showing two things: firstly, that many Bishops – and indeed Bishops’ Conferences – are now much more separated from the Church in matters of Faith than the Society of St. Pius X is from the Authorities; and secondly, that Canon Law allows Sisters and Friars to be released from their vows and to reorganise as a private association of faithful, thus living their vocation away from any arbitrary imposition (Canons 298-311).
Does his Congregation really want to deny 400 Sisters any dispensation from their vows? It would be a brutal violation of that very freedom of conscience which everyone talks about nowadays, usually in the wrong way. The traditional teaching of the Church considers freedom of conscience to be an inviolable right, because nobody can be forced to choose something, but the same cannot be true for the public sphere: only the truth, not error, has any rights. Fanatics of Vatican II talk about religious liberty in the public sphere, and hand out rights to all sorts of cults and sects, but they do not do so where it really matters, and judge intentions and think they can see into people’s consciences.
How dare they think they can force Friars and Sisters to remain in an Institute where they no longer feel at home because its very identity has been destroyed? The idea that salus animarum suprema lex is the underlying principle of Canon Law itself, and indeed of spiritual growth for any baptised Catholic. Its rule must be the salvation of our soul.
If someone in a situation like this wanted to follow their conscience and fight back against injustice, what do you think would happen to them? Dialogue? Open discussion? Mercy? A big stick, more like. Are expulsions, censures, suspensions a divinis, excommunications and interdictions only reserved now for those who are faithful to proper Catholic teaching?
One final question is still awaiting an answer. Is the big stick used by Cardinal Braz de Aviz in open contradiction with the mercy preached by Pope Francis? Or is it merely one means for expressing it?
(Roberto de Mattei)
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Categories: Ordination of Women Priests Movement in India
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