Saturday, March 21, 2009

Is the throne of the Bishop of Linz wobbling?


Is the seat of Bishop Schwarz wobbling?

Arch-conservative circles place Linzer Bishop Schwarz in a serious situation. Schwarz himself has just completed a particularly stressful week of meetings.

Is the seat of Bishop Schwarz wobbling?
Will he be appointed to Rome? To the Curia? Or will he go back to a leading position in his Salesian Order? Will the Vatican send him an "assistant" in the form of a coadjutor, who then has the right to follow him? One thing is certain: Influential arch conservative circles are presently attempting to - from the public until now unnoticed - remove the Bishop of Linz.

Problems with Friedl and Wagner
The situation is serious for Schwarz. So serious that even Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn is involved. He wants to keep his former Auxilliary Bishop (2001-2005). Only recently, the chairman of the Bishops' Conference hurried to the side of Schwarz with a remarkable appearance. Schoenborn was personally travelled to a meeting of the Bishops Consistory in Linz. The body of the 20 highest officials of the Diocese of Linz had considered in his presence (Schoenborn is Metropolitan of the ecclesiastical province which Upper Austria belongs to) the situation after the "voluntary" resignation of the Windischgarsten parish priest Gerhard Maria Wagner. The conservative wing of Upper Austria was particularly hard hit by the resignation before the inauguration. It is powerful - and now seeks to strike back.

Schwarz himself has just completed a particularly stressful week of meetings. On Monday with Father Josef Friedl, who confessed that he lives with a woman in the rectory. On Thursday with the deans, who no longer believe in the maintenance of celibacy. Just yesterday, Friday, with the priests’ council who have little to no understanding of the events surrounding the almost Bishop Wagner.

"Servite Domino in laetitia," "Serve the Lord with joy," reads the Episcopal motto of Schwarz. Joy? the 68-year-old pastor is currently suffering from the situation. In silence and alone. Because when Schwarz moved from Vienna to Linz he neglected to bring trusted colleagues, the existing staff was unchanged from his predecessor Maximilian Aichern. To the outside, Schwarz remains, if he, for example, from his private rooms on the first floor of the Episcopal residence comes out to meet journalists polite and friendly, almost gentle. "I am glad," one hears from him often when he shakes hands. From a former employee he was described as a "heartily good person". This may also be his main problem. He wants to make everything OK.

The example of the Ungenach parish priest Friedl: Schwarz relieves the objector to celibacy from his role as dean, which does not really matter, but leaves him in the priesthood. Which was taken as a sign of weakness. From both sides, progressives and conservatives, in the Catholic Church.

This was the order of Rome which Schwarz received to lead together extremes into a shared centre. For years, there have been conflicts among Catholics in Upper Austria of a lesser or greater seriousness over the (strong) the role of pastoral assistants, baptisms by laymen, and actual or perceived abuses in the liturgy.

Influential Friends
Thus Schwarz calmly let criticism fall on him from both sides. From 1984 to 1999 in Rome he built useful contacts as a university professor valuable and built networks. Among other things, to a fellow Salesian named Tarcisio Bertone. He is now in the climb up the Catholic career ladder higher than Schwarz. Bertone is today as Cardinal Secretary of State's number two behind Pope Benedict XVI. Certainly his work is not uncontroversial. Was the bishop of Linz comforted or frightened that presently his friend was in a similar situation.

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