Pope chides Catholics who query key beliefs


POPE BENEDICT XVI has begun the Catholic Church’s Easter celebrations in Rome with a sharp rebuke of those priests and laity who choose to question key tenets of church teaching.

In a homily during the traditional Maundy Thursday “Chrism” Mass in St Peter’s, the Pope issued a highly unusual rebuttal to those who question Church teaching on questions such as the ordination of women. “Recently a group of priests from a European country issued a summons to disobedience . . . even to the point of disregarding definite decisions of the church’s magisterium, such as the question of women’s ordination . . . But is disobedience really a way to do this? Do we sense here . . . a desperate push to do something to change the church in accordance with one’s own preferences and ideas?”

While the pope here seems to be making a clear reference to the “Pfarrer Initiative”, promoted by over 300 Austrian priests, his hardline rejection of the call for changes also fits in perfectly with reports yesterday that dissident Irish priest Tony Flannery is under investigation by the Holy See.

Furthermore, the pope’s words this week re-echo criticism of the Irish Catholic Church expressed last month in the Holy See’s summary of the recent Apostolic Visitation to Ireland: “ . . . the visitors also encountered a certain tendency, not dominant but nevertheless fairly widespread among priests, religious and laity, to hold theological opinions at variance with the teachings of the magisterium . . .”

The pope’s Maundy Thursday remarks were made in the context of the traditional “Chrism” Mass when priests renew their vows.

Pope Benedict said priests were called to form “an interior bond” with Christ, yet at the same time renounce “much vaunted self-fulfilment”, adding: “We preach not private theories and opinions, but the faith of the church, whose servants we are.”

The pope, who celebrates his 85th birthday on April 16th, has looked reasonably vigorous this week, notwithstanding that his extensive schedule of Easter celebrations comes just 10 days after his return from a tiring six-day visit to Mexico and Cuba.

Speaking last night at the end of the traditional Good Friday “Via Crucis” (Way Of The Cross) procession in the Coliseum, led by him, the Pope said that the “experience of suffering and of the cross touches all mankind”.

Benedict also acknowledged the current worldwide economic recession when saying: “How often does the journey become wearisome and difficult! Misunderstandings, conflicts, worry for the future of our children, sickness and problems of every kind.

“These days, too, the situation of many families is made worse by the threat of unemployment and other negative effects of the economic crisis.”

Tomorrow, after celebrating Easter Mass, the pope will issue his traditional “Urbi et Orbi” (to the city and to the world) blessing.