Liturgical Views of the Papabili: Christoph Schönborn

By Hops Burger

In the Roman rumor mill – more than in the German or Austrian – the name of the Archbishop of Vienna, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn repeatedly appears as a papabile. And not without reason. Schönborn has a particularly close relationship to Benedict XVI, and to a certain extent he would be a guarantee that the great theological lines of the preceding pontificate would be drawn further.

Schönborn studied under Ratzinger in Regensburg for a year. He later developed a close relationship to Cardinal Ratzinger, then head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, as editor responsible for the Catechism of the Catholic Church. On many theological topics the two are on the same wavelength. Recent history shows that there was also strong consensus on some political questions.

Schönborn stems from an old line of Austrian nobility which has already produced many bishops and cardinals. Like many German speakers, he was expelled from his Czech homeland immediately after the Second World War. He and his family found a new home in the western Austrian province of Vorarlberg.

Experiencing the fate of an exile, along with dramatic developments in his extended family, have played a role in Schönborn’s sense of being a cardinal and archbishop of Vienna. He has repeatedly shown that others’ personal trials must be handled in the light of the Gospel, and that mercy, empathy, and understanding for the flaws in another’s biography must triumph over the court of judgment of strict doctrine. There is no doubt that in his faithfulness to principles, Schönborn follows the mind of the teaching of the Catholic Church. But he is also a deeply pastorally-minded man of the Church. Despite his lofty position, his feet remain firmly on the ground and he has never lost contact with the real world of people.

His personality, thought, and way of dealing with people become clearer in the details of various stories that have received little attention in the media because they remain obscured to the eyes of superficial journalism.

In a televised discussion of the question of the divorced and remarried, a woman asked him if he would refuse her Communion, now that he knows that she is remarried. He replied with the succinct statement: The Church doesn’t have a statute to fit every situation in human life.

Schönborn’s manner of dealing with the conflict surrounding the burial of Austrian President Thomas Klestil, who died in office, was noteworthy. Klestil had caused a sensation when he divorced his first wife and soon thereafter married his election campaign secretary. The election campaign had been led under the image of the “healthy family.” The second wife, an ambitious diplomat who is now a prominent Austrian ambassador, managed to convince the presidential administration that the first wife should be excluded from official participation in the burial ceremonies. The cardinal forcefully insisted that both women be seated in St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna, in the first and second row. In his homily he spoke tactfully, and yet with clear language, about the fact of a failed marriage, so that no one was offended in the way he brought together honesty and merciful goodwill.

Schönborn continues to be given big problems having to deal effectively in the public eye with cases of sexual abuse by clergy, particularly by his predecessor, the abuser Cardinal Hans Hermann Groer. His initial reflex was defensive, but then he gained respect by examining the facts and looking truth in the eye. This he did together with a minority of the Austrian bishops – Bishops Weber of Graz, Kapellari of Klagenfurt, and Eder of Salzburg. These four publicly declared that they had arrived at moral certainty that the accusations against Cardinal Groer were based on fact.

The enmity which resulted between him and ultraconservative Bishop Kurt Krenn of St. Pölten was legendary. Against his better knowledge, Krenn positioned himself with scandalous public statements and defended Groer to the hilt. Then Krenn was confronted with a scandal in his diocesan seminary. The rectory of the seminary, and not only he, was found guilty of homosexual behavior. Krenn defended his people, meaning that his days as diocesan bishop were numbered. Conservative publications probably aren’t wrong when to this day they accuse Schönborn of greatly speeding up the demise of the Austrian “scandal bishop.”

In the clarification of event surrounding Cardinal Groer, the Austrian bishops were forcefully impeded by the Roman authorities and John Paul II. Retired Bishop Weber of Graz has admitted that this remains a big wound in his life. (It is known that Cardinal Ratzinger took a different position than the rest of the Roman curia in such questions.)

In an interview in 2010, Cardinal Schönborn publicly criticized the obstructionists in the Vatican, and especially their leader, the Secretary of State at the time, Cardinal Sodano. The reaction was fierce. Schönborn was called to Rome for a scolding. In Vienna there were secret reports of a shouting match involving several cardinals. The matter was then settled, at least publicly, with spongy statements. Schönborn certainly didn’t out himself as a friend of the curia in the whole affair – and of course he knew the curia all too well from his time in Rome.

It counts as certain in Austrian church gossip that Schönborn prevented the already-announced episcopal ordination of Fr. Gerhard Wagner, parish priest in Upper Austria who was named auxiliary bishop of Linz. Wagner was known for his reactionary views and his difficult personality. As an old Austrian nobleman, Schönborn has no fear before thrones of princes, and so he went directly to the Pope. He brought about the revocation of Wagner’s nomination as auxiliary bishop – a one-time occurrence in recent Church history. Acting discretely behind the curtains, Schönborn was able to apply the emergency brakes quickly and so save the Austrian Church from much difficulty.

An episode brewed up for the Cardinal by the stupid behavior of a Polish priest north of Vienna caused a sensation. Initially the pastor did not oppose the candidacy for parish council of a homosexual man who had civilly married his same-sex partner. After the man was elected by the parish community, the pastor refused to approve the election of this open homosexual. As the media made much of the matter, the cardinal invited the man and his partner to a meal and conversation. Later, in an interview, the cardinal said that he was struck by the testimony of faith of the two men and their way of living their faith.

The Polish priest publicly objected that he could not continue as pastor when the cardinal undercut his teaching of Catholic morality. The priest’s case was weakened when a woman soon came forward as his former mistress.

Already in 2010 Schönborn had said, “In the matter of homosexuality we should see more clearly the quality of a relationship. And also speak respectfully of this quality. A stable relationship is certainly better than when someone simply lives promiscuously.” For him this was a change from a “morality of obligation” to a “morality of flourishing.” The center of attention is not sins, but human striving to comply with the commandments.

Another action was less politically less satisfactory, and it was gleefully exploited by the left-wing church magazine “Kirche In.” An associate pastor in a Vienna parish announced that he was leaving the priesthood for a woman. Shortly after he departed his office because of celibacy, a new associate pastor arrived – with wife in arm. He is Greek Catholic, and thus a legitimately married priest. No one could explain satisfactorily to the astonished parish why the one man could be a priest, but not the other.

Cardinal Schönborn is ecclesiastical ordinary in Austria for Eastern Catholics of the Byzantine rite in communion with Rome. He has repeatedly attempted to alleviate the pressing clergy shortage in his archdiocese by the placement of married Greek Catholic priests. The Roman authorities have caused him every possible difficulty in this matter.

Schönborn has also had bad fortune with his former vicar general, Helmut Schüller. The cardinal fired the overly ambitious cleric, which was hardly a surprise to insiders. Now Schüller perpetually provokes his archbishop with his Appeal to Disobedience and his call for women’s ordination, the abolition of mandatory celibacy, and other hot-button issues. Schüller has also founded an organization of like-minded priests. The archbishop certainly does not respond with disciplinary measures, but rather makes his argument patiently and mostly suffers silently as he goes forward.

These and many other stories show Schönborn to be a man and bishop of personal integrity, not corrupted by his office or church politics, with a deep Christ-centered spirituality, open with goodwill to contemporary people and their concerns, problems, and needs, but not uncritically so. For many people in Austria, Schönborn embodies the model of the “Good Shepherd” who reacts with understanding to the brokenness of human existence. He appeals for conversion and transformation not with moralistic finger-pointing, but with love.

The cardinal hopes for an improvement of the church situation through forms of new evangelization, especially as this come from the “new movements.” His close relationship to the “Community of the Lamb” has not been concealed. Several of these ecclesial movements are received with goodwill and encouragement in Vienna.

Schönborn is a man of ecumenism. He is united to the Pope Emeritus in his inclination toward Orthodoxy. Schönborn has documented this and supported it as a scholar in his much-celebrated book on icons of Christ. Schönborn also energetically supports “pro oriente,” the foundation begun by Cardinal König. He is highly active in the foundation’s work, for example in study trips and encounters with Orthodox and Old Oriental church leaders. His well-known friendship with the deceased Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Michael Staikos brought about much good. One could also observe Schönborn taking part in the Orthodox Good Friday procession in the inner city, since the Greek cathedral is close to St. Stephen’s cathedral. Orthodox liturgy and spirituality were and are an important spiritual heritage for the Viennese cardinal.

As editor of the Catechism in Rome, Schönborn survived the trial by fire which tested his suitability for higher church office. It is true that he got his wings as respected professor of dogmatics in Swiss Fribourg, and he was always noticed and encouraged by Ratzinger, but his church “masterpiece” was the Catechism. Among friends Schönborn never hid the fact that the drafts from the appointed commission of bishops were mehr schlecht als recht (“terrible more than correct”). He pretty much had to rewrite everything from beginning to end, and write much of it new.

The true heart of the cardinal beats in the chapter of the Catechism on the liturgy. This bears most clearly the handwriting of Schönborn, who has always dedicated himself devotedly to liturgical questions. His approach to questions of worship is systematic, spiritual, and aesthetic. Liturgical history is not dismissed thereby, but it doesn’t play a central role. In this approach he is united once again with Ratzinger.

Anyone who studies the liturgy section of the Catechism will understand well the innermost thinking of Schönborn. The Cardinal of Vienna is – as a Dominican – a gifted teacher. Despite his high intellectualism, he can present complicated and complex theological matters so that they are understandable even for simple people. He has a pleasant speaking voice, and his rhetoric is skilled but unobtrusive. One listens readily to him, because he succeeds in drawing people in by the manner of his spoken communication.

His calm manner of celebration and his skill with communal ritual show him to be a master of the ars celebrandi. Ever since the sanctuary of St. Stephen’s Cathedral was renovated by Cardinal Groer, it continues to be a place for celebration that doesn’t offend the eye and is free of the usual burden of ecclesiastical kitsch.

The cardinal highly values liturgical aesthetics and a dramaturgically well-prepared liturgy. In this he is supported by a master of ceremonies – a married deacon – who ensures that episcopal worship services are beautiful to behold in their external unfolding.

As an aesthetically sensitive man, Schönborn is a friend of tasteful modern vestments. But in Vienna it is part of the normal style of feast day liturgies that baroque vestments and other such things from the cathedral treasury are used. This is not an ideological statement but an aesthetic one.

Normally one wouldn’t see the cardinal wearing liturgical clothes with Belgian lace. He appears not to be a friend of the wall of candlesticks on the altar, as is customary in Rome since Guido Marini.

It is not known that the cardinal is particularly a friend of the Extraordinary Form (with the pre-Vatican II missal of 1962). Most of the Austrian bishops are discretely agreed that this form is not to be encouraged, but also not prevented. They see no necessity of using this liturgy as a way to favor Latin in the liturgy. Austrian church music praxis also contributes to this. It is completely normal that on high and not so high feast days, church choirs sing a Latin Mass Ordinary with orchestral accompaniment, without it becoming somewhat of a “concert with liturgical accompaniment.” And apart from this, choirs sing not a little Latin church music. It should be emphasized that the celebration from altar and ambo is mostly in German. This praxis is affirmed also by many “progressive” Catholics, because this type of church music simply belongs to the cultural identity of Austrians.

The cardinal has no problem singing a Mass in Latin – without making it into an ideological question. Perhaps only those closest to him know how he, with his cultural background, managed to preside at a Mass with the Catholic youth of his diocese with blaring rock music.

German-speaking dioceses will get the new edition of the official hymnal and prayer book Gotteslob (“Praise of God”) in fall 2013. The Austrian bishops participated completely and constructively in the drafting process, including their defiance of the attempts at regulation of the Congregation for Divine Worship to interfere with customary practices of congregational singing. An aspect of this was that the bishops did not accept the CDW’s prohibition of songs by the Dutch ex-Jesuit Huub Oosterhuis as “liturgical songs.” According to press reports, the songs have stayed.

Among the noteworthy actions of the Viennese cardinal with respect to liturgy is the publication of a particular funeral rite for the Archdiocese of Vienna, which appeared not as a “Ritual Book” but as a “Manual.” Schönborn simply decided sua potestate (“by his own power”) to publish this book to meet pastoral needs, rather than taking the usual path for the publication of official liturgical books.

It is reported that Schönborn is counted among the strongest critics of the attempt at retranslation of the missal which, it is said, is seen as highly unsuccessful. The translation is only known fragmentarily, since everything must transpire as a secret business. The Austrian bishops above all have made no secret of their continuing resistance to it. It was also the Archbishop of Salzburg who made himself the leader of those who prevented the implementation of the new translation of the German funeral rites after Rome ordered its publication. With nonacceptance of the officially issued book, the situation is now a standoff.

There are other utterly unconventional facets of the Cardinal of Vienna. In his diocese he has named many women to leadership positions in the chancery. His friendship with the Austrian poet Peter Turrini, who has repeatedly taken critical positions on church matters, is legendary. His engagement with the world of the arts is respected. His scholarly work is considerable.

Admittedly, the discussion he led in the U.S. media on “intelligent design” caused a disturbance.

Schönborn is a man who was given many gifts in life and has made use of these in a very positive way. One thing he clearly is not: a politician who intervenes with an iron fist. He is a man of dialogue, including difficult dialog. He is not too cowardly to take in hand a hot potato. Above all, he is a spiritual man. He is deeply rooted in the Church, but he has retained the capability to beyond the edge of his plate to see and understand the external world with all its questions and problems.

But: will the cardinals want to elect an Austrian after a German pope?

Hops Burger hails from the land of the historic Austrian-Hungarian empire and knows way too much about things Roman. His idea of a good time is studying a Latin liturgical book.  





26 responses to “Liturgical Views of the Papabili: Christoph Schönborn”

  1. Fr. Allan J. McDonald Avatar

    Cardinal Schönborn understands pastoral theology and that it is an art not a science. Because of that it has many pitfalls. Pastoral theology is best left to the private sphere of spiritual direction. When pastoral theology becomes a dogma then it separates rather than unites. What is appealing about Cardinal Schönborn may well mean he won’t be chosen as the next pope as pastoral theology can’t be “dogmatized” but many will try to do so and use him to do it. In the public sphere it is like the camel’s nose in the tent, before you know it, the camel has moved in and theological truths and Sacred Scripture and Tradition, not to mention, natural law are pushed out. All we need to do is to look at liberal protestantism to see where pastoral theology leads when it becomes dogma.

  2. Jim McKay Avatar
    Jim McKay

    Cardinal Schonborn taught dogmatics, and was the head of the group that prepared the Catholic Catechism. Dogmatic theology is best left to the classroom. When it is applied in pastoral situations, it separates rather than unites. This may well mean he will not be chosen as the next Pope as many will fear their own “dogmas” will not be welcomed by a master of dogmatics. Before you know it, dogmatics will push out Scripture and Tradition, just as the Law pushed out Faith early in St Paul’s life.

    1. Fr. Allan J. McDonald Avatar

      @Jim McKay – comment #2:
      Dogma as well as pastoral skills can both be applied in the internal forum and in the classroom (external forum). No dichotomy there.

  3. Rita Ferrone Avatar
    Rita Ferrone

    I have to congratulate the author of this article. It’s wonderfully informative and a pleasure to read. There are many dimensions to Cardinal Schoenborn — the man, his work, his archdiocese, and his gifts to the universal church — that are praiseworthy. He has breadth as well as depth. What a credit to the Church!

    I especially appreciate his ability to respond to unexpected situations, and to take in new data and engage in creative problem solving. We’ve had enough parroted responses, and pre-fabricated answers to modern questions, to last a lifetime. Good theology does not consist in saying the same things over and over again, only louder, and I think he knows that. His decision to produce a funeral manual also shows he has some idea of what a bishop is, ie not a branch manager for the Roman corporation but truly the chief liturgist of his diocese.

    This said, I’m afraid the final sentence of the post is true and the conclave will not select another pope from the German-speaking world immediately after Ratzinger. However, if there were openness to this, he would be a good choice. Especially so, because he has seen the disastrous effects of Benedict’s papacy yet is and remains his good friend. One of BXVI’s dearest wishes was to re-evangelize Europe, but the result of his papacy was a dramatic increase of defections from Catholicism in Europe and further erosion of the Church’s ability to influence public life there. The next pope will not benefit from that experience if he keeps on the rose-colored glasses. Yet at the same time, Benedict’s intentions were good, and one doesn’t want to forget his intentions, even if the actualization needs to change.

    1. Fr. Allan J. McDonald Avatar

      @Rita Ferrone – comment #4:
      Statistics would help in making such broad and categorical analysis of a just finished papacy in terms of cause and effect of the leakage from the Church and the weakening of Catholicism in Europe and elsewhere. As the old saying goes, one person sows what another person reaps. But if what Protestants have done in terms of a dramatic reorientation of their theology, worship and morality to adjust to the mindset of the modern world, we could say they have been a miserable failure also and have not stopped the leakage to the “nones” or something else altogether different like practical agnosticism. To think that anyone and any other way of being Catholic is going to keep those more influenced by the government/politics and the media, information/or entertainment, from leaving the Church is to look at things through rose colored glasses.

      1. Rita Ferrone Avatar
        Rita Ferrone

        @Fr. Allan J. McDonald – comment #5:
        Yes, Benedict’s program for “re-evangelizing Europe” failed. The fact that you are asking for statistics now, Allan, shows that you are ignoring all the reportage that has been offered on this site and others.

      2. Fr. Allan J. McDonald Avatar

        @Rita Ferrone – comment #6:
        I’m not saying that it didn’t fail, I’m asking for statistics about why it has failed and in doing so stating that Jesus Christ himself would fail given the reasons why people are leaving. There is no magic bullet, no super hero or no agenda that is going to work save conversion and repentance.

      3. Todd Flowerday Avatar

        @Fr. Allan J. McDonald – comment #7:
        Statistics won’t tell us the “why.” They might point to “why.” But it is a matter of discernment, and given the homogeneity of the bishops, especially the curia, it’s not surprising discernment is so darned difficult. They have about as much hope for success as a football side of 11 midfielders or a ball team of all second basemen.

        If the expectation was that B16’s eloquence and episcopal diligence was going to bring back alienated Catholics in droves, then indeed, *that* project has failed. I was always thinking any sort of evangelization, even the “New,” was going to take decades.

        Would Jesus fail in today’s climate? Honestly, I don’t think the institution has given him a chance. Jesus would succeed. The apostles would succeed. The problem with the institution is that they think too much about preservation.

        Conversion and repentance? I nominate Fr Allan to go to Rome and preach it.

      4. Fr. Allan J. McDonald Avatar

        @Todd Flowerday – comment #10:
        Jesus did fail 2000 years ago by the standards of those who post here and by the world of course and miserably. And thus it is then as now and will be even forever. Amen.

  4. Jack Feehily Avatar
    Jack Feehily

    Are we ready for an intellectually honest, down to earth Pontiff who would be ready to make decisions only after dialogue with everyone including those who disagree with him? Not sure, but we could certainly do worse. If it must be another European, I’m for Schoenborn.

  5. Samuel J. Howard Avatar

    Normally one wouldn’t see the cardinal wearing liturgical clothes with Belgian lace.

    And yet in both the pictures offered with the article the Cardinal is in fact wearing liturgical clothes with lace. Surely the argument isn’t simply that it’s not Belgian.

    And why is this article being posted under a pseudonym?

    1. Anthony Ruff, OSB Avatar
      Anthony Ruff, OSB

      Ha! I was wondering what nit you’d pick and suspected it would be exactly that – lace in the photo! You’ve become known well, Samuel. I will respond in kind: the author says “normally” and the photo is per definitionem what he wore on but one occasion. Not to put too fine a point on it, but I’m pretty sure that the person who wrote the post has a better sense of what the cardinal “normally” wears than you do!

    2. Anthony Ruff, OSB Avatar
      Anthony Ruff, OSB

      Samuel, our blog standards allow for a pseudonymn and that’s just how it is. (So did the New Yorker with Xavier Rynne.)
      The author lives in Austria and knows the cardinal better than you. I stand by his account, which is based on decades of observance in person rather than your web search of photos.
      Please, tried to be constructive. Sometimes, oftentimes, it seems like your goal is simply to discredit by nitpicking.

  6. Chris McDonnell Avatar

    Schoenborn has dealt with a wide variety of pastoral issues during his recent years and has shown immense tact in so doing. He would bring a sensitivity to the Papacy that has been missing for many years. Maybe we owe his Dominican background credit for that.

    The background Note that started this string was indeed readable and informative. Thank you.

    From Tuesday afternoon, in this age of iPhones, iPads, email and HDTV, we await the white smoke issuing from a tall chimney to inform us that agreement has been reached An interesting few days ahead.

  7. Brendan McInerny Avatar
    Brendan McInerny

    I’m a great admirer of Schoenborn, and my own personal favorite among the papabili. As many have indicated, he might very well bring a gift for pastoral engagement and dialogue to the papacy, to say nothing of his intellectual continuity with Benedict.

    That being said, I don’t see how Benedict’s papacy can be the cause of “a dramatic increase of defections from Catholicism”. Fr. Allan is right to see stats on that one – at least to substantiate the claim that there was a “dramatic increase”.
    Further, as is well known, and repeated on this blog over and over with respect to the ‘defections’ after Vatican II, correlation is not causation. How one could show that Benedict’s papacy resulted in defection rather than simply occurred during defection, is unclear to me.
    Moreover, if we were to say that Benedict is the cause of the defections, or at least a failure for not stemming or reversing the tide, I don’t see how Schoenborn wouldn’t also be responsible for the church-bleed in the archdiocese of Vienna, which I understand is in a mess, though I could very well be wrong.
    Why the double-standard?

    1. Rita Ferrone Avatar
      Rita Ferrone

      @Brendan McInerny – comment #13:
      It was Vienna to which I was referring. Among others. If it were Vienna alone it would be different. That is why I said he “knows” well the effects.

      1. Brendan McInerny Avatar
        Brendan McInerny

        @Rita Ferrone – comment #18:

        Thanks for the clarification. But I still don’t see the logic in the claim that Benedict was the cause of these effects, nor how Schoenborn “knows” them well but can’t himself be responsible for any of the mess in Vienna. I just don’t understand how we’re assigning faults and strengths.

        The issue with vicar Schueller may be a case in point. It says above that the man was “ambitious” and unsurprisingly Schoenborn canned him. However, there are rumors that Schoenborn fired him by leaving a note on his doorstep – perhaps a perfectly reasonable action, but from the outside it doesn’t appear to be an act of great integrity. It’s at least possible that Schoenborn’s own behavior has contributed to the problems in Vienna, not least by getting rid of those he doesn’t like or trust (not a bad thing for the next pope). The stance of dialogue is wonderful, but when the dialogue is necessitated by the man’s own behavior, perhaps its not as commendable as it otherwise appears.

        Could you elaborate?

      2. Rita Ferrone Avatar
        Rita Ferrone

        @Brendan McInerny – comment #22:
        Hi Brendan,

        Landslide numbers are resigning from the Catholic Church in German-speaking Europe now. It began during Benedict’s pontificate. This is, of course, a multi-dimensional phenomenon, and represents a process. However, hundreds of thousands of people reached the breaking point under Benedict. One has to ask why. Consider the following:

        1. The Williamson affair was disastrous, especially in German-speaking Europe. Holocaust denial is a crime in Germany. The moral outrage was immense. No one but Benedict brought this on. Its effect ran deeper because it was a German pope. “How could he not have known?”

        2. The sex abuse crisis has not yet been effectively addressed, from the top. The extent of it has only become more evident. Benedict has continued to blame the media and secular society and “the mystery of sin”; the response from the pews has been more loss of confidence. Sure, we can say Benedict did better than his predecessor on this score, but the public perception — for which he himself is responsible — is ineptitude and a certain unwillingness to face facts. Eight years as pope, and how much has really changed?

        3. The message from Rome has been that there will be no pastoral accommodation on issues such as use of condoms to reduce the spread of AIDS, pastoral care for divorced and remarried, homosexuality, or the status of women. Far from creating an “evangelizing” effect, this has convinced people that there is no hope, the “direction” (again from on top) is set and no one is listening. Rather than creating security that is conducive to growth, it has been received as a willful rebuke given to good and/or struggling people.

        I don’t know about the doorstep story. Perhaps Schoenborn has not got the ability to face conflict directly, and that would be a liability. But as Archbishop of Vienna, he has not been the target of public criticism. The defections are not because of him, as I understand it.

      3. Karl Liam Saur Avatar
        Karl Liam Saur

        @Rita Ferrone – comment #24:
        Here in Boston, there was an echo effect in the Long Lent of 2010 – when the cascade of European abuse cases flowed. It was something like PSTD for Boston, 8 years after our Long Lent of 2002. I watched how attendance among the younger adults plummeted visibly. If you were careful to observe absences in addition to presences, you’d also notice more Catholics having funerals from funeral homes rather than churches; and of course weddings have declined markedly in many parishes. From my conversations with local folks the theme was “they have not learned a thing from what we went through; they just want to make it *seem* like they’ve learned something.” And we of course have our local set of fringe wackos who think the solution is to ditch Cdl Sean with a hardline traditionalists (Boston has never been known as a hotbed of liturgical passion, given the rather intensely singular ethnic domination of its liturgical life for 160 years, so folks who think the liturgy is the answer here are completely tone-deaf to the realities on the ground.)

        While not a flawless candidate (there is no such thing, anyway), the election of a non-Cardinal in the form of, say, the current Abp of Dublin, might show a deeper kind of “seeming” at least…

  8. Ann Olivier Avatar
    Ann Olivier

    Fr. McDonald –

    Do you think that theology and pastoral theology need not be consistent? If that is your view, then your position sounds suspiciously like the “two-truth” theory of Averroes, the Muslim philosopher-theologian, who thought that a proposition could be true in theology but false in philosophy. In other words, each discipline had a different criterion of truth, so that the disciplines could be contradictory yet not contradictory at the same time.

    1. Fr. Allan J. McDonald Avatar

      @Ann Olivier – comment #14:
      Who knew I was a Muslim! No I agree with much of what the Cardinal’s approach to pastoral theology is except I would keep it in the internal forum. I like some aspects of transparency, but so much of it today is exhibitionism and no one can claim transparency to be a dogma that must be accepted by all.

    2. Rita Ferrone Avatar
      Rita Ferrone

      @Ann Olivier – comment #14:
      Ann, you are so wonderfully erudite.
      Thanks for gracing us with that question. I’ve learned something!

  9. Crystal Watson Avatar

    Thanks for this post – I haven’t found all that much online in English about Schönborn. He would be my choice among the cardinals for next pope, but I wish they would seriously consider non-cardinals for the job too.

  10. Rom Kiul Avatar
    Rom Kiul

    Thanks for a very interesting and informative post.

    On the OT subject of the re-evangelisation of Europe: whether one looks around the world, or in our own local areas, the Churches that are growing rapidly in membership and activity are only in exceptional cases those with beautiful intricate liturgy involving arcane language. Very often the growth is seen in Churches with a lively style of music and worship, and evangelical preaching and outreach. B16’s policy of turning the clock back was the exact opposite of a strategy likely to re-evangelise Europe

  11. Dale Rodrigue Avatar
    Dale Rodrigue

    I’ve always said that he seems to fit the bill and is exactly what we need.
    1. Ratzinger associate, to satisfy many of the B16 admirers.
    2. Ability to clean house, his battle w/ Sodano is enough to get him elected.
    3. Pastoral, teacher and Christlike.
    What more do we need?
    Oh, that’s right, he’s probably not Machiavellian enough for many of the cardinals.

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