Leader of the 'disobedient' priests starts US lecture tour
Title of the tour is The Catholic Tipping Point
Picture: Ramon Talale/National Catholic Reporter
Fr. Helmut Schüller should be on summer vacation right now.
Instead, the Austrian priest, who gained international attention in 2011 for his "Call to Disobedience," has chosen to spend his time off from parish ministry offering a presentation titled "The Catholic Tipping Point: Conversations" in 15 U.S. cities.
The tour kicked off Tuesday night at Manhattan's Judson Memorial Church, a historic community in Greenwich Village with affiliations to the United Church of Christ and the American Baptist Church.
Tuesday night, however, the space was filled with 230 reform-minded Catholics who braved dangerously high heat and humidity to hear Schüller's vision for church reform and a renewed priesthood.
Schüller is quick to note he is only one priest among a large community of clergy and lay supporters who are calling on the institutional church for desperately needed reforms.
Studies suggest that for every 100 Catholic priests who retire, only 30 are available to replace them. To date, the hierarchy's response to this crisis has been to close and merge parishes rather than to open ordination to all who are willing and able to serve.
In 2006, Schüller and a group of fellow clergy members founded the Austrian Priests' Initiative as a way to go public with their concerns about the shrinking priesthood, the merging of parishes and the inordinate pressures being placed on the dwindling number of parish priests.
Since the launching of the "Call to Disobedience," Schüller has been clear that the Austrian Priests' Initiative does not believe in disobedience for the sake of contradiction. Rather, they promote a "graduated obedience," first to God, then to their consciences and, finally, to church order.
Source: National Catholic Reporter
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