Sunday, February 22, 2009

Post-Christian Austria

Das postchristliche Österreich «

Written by one of the gravediggers of Catholic Austria for one of the two main newspapers.

The courageous (!) and purposeful action of the Bishops' Conference has nipped in the bud a new and long dispute within and around the Catholic Church. The enigmatic procedure around the appointment of a bishop have caused a stir which came simultaneously with the incomprehensible decision on the four bishops belonging to a sect (Cathcon- !!!!- call the SSPX many things but they are not Moonies or Mormons!).

In both cases, the headquarters of the Catholic Church in Rome has been at the centre of the whirlwind. The reputation of the papal form of government is increasingly in doubt. Keywords for similar "cases"? Good Friday Prayers, Mohammed quote, Protestants are not in any sense a church, blessing for missionary activities, etc. No month without misunderstandings, excitement, corrections, interpretative declarations. In all cases, it is about the means chosen to make a statement, that is communication. One can only underline what is now explained by the Austrian bishops in their pastoral letter: "We hope that inadequate communication processes in the Vatican can successfully improved."

In Austria, all these incidents have caused a big wave. The whole public arena has been occupied with these matters now for months. Michael Prüller already described, in a "Die Presse" editorial, Austria as a post-Christian society. If he meant a post-church society which fully guarantees religion, faith and freedom of conscience, he is right. If he thinks it is one in which religions, especially Christianity, do not play a more influential role, I must oppose him. All three Abrahamic religions of revelation (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) still shape with their fundamental values, to our common well-being, our country and large parts of Europe.

Since Christianity became the state religion in the Roman Empire, it has made vital contributions to the design of the company delivered - I just mention the commandment of love (solidarity), the abolition of slavery, the foundation of society on the basis of marriage and family, educational activities of the monasteries covering the whole of Europe, the protection of life.

If some say that there are absolutely no fundamental values without God, they go too far. Of course, you can also derive universally valid values from reason. Reason and faith are equal side by side (Cathcon- two wings of a bird, as Pope John Paul II said in an encyclical. In the thought of St Thomas, reason is necessary for Faith, but Faith excels reason by far in excellence) But today the proportion of people is growing again incomparably higher, who obtain their values from religion and thereby believe and do not create them for themselves using reason. This makes religion so important for a caring society.

So nobody should want healthy churches to shrink, leaving just a few, but absolutely and blindly obeying it may be. The pastoral letter and understanding in Rome give us the right to hope for nothing more.

Andreas Khol, who was President of the Austrian Parliament but now has formed a lay initiative. He was one of the leaders of the gang that forced Father Wagner to withdraw his resignation. He should stick to politics- can’t his Christian Democrat party give him back his day job?
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