Austria’s bishops support the worldwide synodal process of the Catholic Church launched by Pope Francis, but are exerting less pressure than the German Synodal Path.
They support the “cultural change” initiated by the Pope with the utmost conviction, the Austrian Bishops’ Conference declared on Friday at the end of its spring plenary assembly. It is a process that is unique in the history of the Church, they said.
Francis opened the process back in 2021. In the three-year, multi-stage dialogue, the Church should practice a different style of interaction and discuss reform proposals.
Worldwide synodal assemblies are planned in Rome for October 2023 and October 2024. “The desire for reform is great, despite conflicting ideas,“ the bishops noted. They said it was a matter of taking concrete steps “necessary for the service of the Church and its credibility”.
The President of the Austrian Bishops’ Conference, Archbishop Franz Lackner of Salzburg, stressed that the phase of “discernment“ was not yet over. Only once this is over will it be possible to make decisions at the level of the universal Church.
So far, questions such as compulsory celibacy, the blessing of homosexual couples or allowing women to become deacons have been addressed without changing strategic direction, Lackner summed up. However, clarifications would probably be made at the meetings in Rome in October 2023 and 2024.
On the position of the Austrian bishops on the abolition of compulsory celibacy for priests, Lackner said diplomatically: “No one is radically opposed to it, and no one is shouting, it has to come tomorrow”.
*Originally reported by KNA Germany.