Thursday, April 05, 2012

Austrian woman intends to celebrate "Easter Mass" and faces excommunication

Interview just published in the Austrian newspaper, Der Standard.

As if we were crucifying cats. 

Martha Heizer: "I have many friends who have now told me that they will bury me in any case." 

Martha Heizer: "We can still indeed pray. Whether the Holy Spirit does it or not is up to him" 

Frau Heizer (in orange) prays with the Cardinal at a penitential service for the victims of clerical sexual abuse

At Easter, the theologian Martha Heizer returns to committing a "delictum gravis" and will hold a Eucharistic celebration in the "domestic church" – under the threat of excommunication. The Tyrolean church theologian and critic Martha Heizer has drawn the ire of many religious leaders. She and four colleagues are accused of imitating Eucharistic celebrations without a priest. In the ecclesiastical world, this is a "delictum gravis", ie a "serious offense", which may lead to the excommunication. The local clergy has now launched investigations into the case. An opinion of the Bishop, Manfred Scheuer should be be presented "in the coming weeks" to the Vatican. Then, the CDF will decide on possible sanctions. 

 Why such tough action is taken against them, Heizer cannot understand. She wishes "to reflect on the future forms of sacraments." How and why Heizer formulated her ceremonies and who will bury her if she is excluded from the sacraments, she tells Katrin Burgstaller. Will you at Easter have a private celebration of the Eucharist? 

Heizer: First: I dislike the formulation of private Eucharist . Because the Eucharist is never private. We celebrate Mass in our house church, I prefer that term. And yes, that's what we do. However, we will be in the parish on Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday for the Resurrection. We will be going to the normal church service. Only, this is not so intense. In the small, intimate circle, the celebration has a very different quality. Here one's own life also has a place. How can one imagine such a celebration of the Eucharist in the house church? 

Heizer: We are five and it is always different at each. We sit around a table. This is a normal celebration of the Eucharist, as also happens in the parish. We have no text except the Bible. We pray spontaneously and personally. We have good bread and good wine and ask that the Holy Spirit both - and us - converts. We eat and drink together, and we sing and pray much. How long does it take? 

Heizer: One and a half or two hours. Anything that moves us is part of our Eucharistic celebration. Many theologians say that only an ordained priest can ask the Holy Spirit for the conversion of the Eucharistic elements. 

Heizer: We can only pray What the Holy Spirit does or not, is up to Him. We have every confidence that he does so in both in the small and in the great congregation. I think that we need not even be particularly religious to convert the Eucharistic elements. The Holy Spirit does this at His or Her discretion. It is often said that you "fake" Eucharistic celebrations. Do you put on a priest's robe?

Heizer: But what rubbish. In addition, we imitate anything. We meet every 14 days and pray together which is a simple Liturgy of the Word. And always someone in our group says: It's time we celebrate the Eucharist once again. In every Eucharist, there is someone who leads from one part to another. So from the Kyrie to the Gloria from Gloria to the reading of Scripture. This is the only function, there is no leadership. Your opponents say that you act in contradiction to the liturgical and canonical requirements whereby this cannot be a Eucharist in any sense. 

Heizer: Well, then they should not be concerned. I do not care whether that is recognized from the outside. For us it is a Eucharist, we are very happy and it does us good. The Vatican Congregation will decide your case. Your "illegal Masses" are as treated as delicts -severe offenses. 

 Heizer: We are accused of desecrating the Eucharist. It drives me mad that we in this wonderful celebration which builds us up and is the source and centre of our faith life should be deprived of holiness. It is as if we were crucifying cats.

Delicts include the desecration of the confessional and sexual abuse of people in confession.  When I think we are grouped with the abusers, I wonder how much all of this is upside down.   They say we seek to fit ourselves into a role we are not entitled to.  We say: the question is whether the clergy are not being presumptious when they take the distribution of the Sacrament on themselves.  In addition, we will soon no longer have enough clerics.    At that stage, we will  have had to have thought about how we should deal with the problem. The church is known for their rigid structures. Do you think there is any chance of change?

Heizer: The change does not come from the top- 100 percent.  Those who have the power do not deliver.   And in this case, it is often about power.   The theological arguments do not play the main role.   In the Bible, Jesus said, "Take and eat" and not "take and eat, when an ordained priest is available."   The change comes from below.  If  reprisals come from the top, we just need to take this into account. You face a censure or excommunication. What will happen next to you?

Heizer:  Theysay that this little excommunication is an interdict (note- prohibition from ecclesiastical acts), that we have already brought on ourselves because we have held the Eucharist.  We reject strongly that we have made ourselves guilty.   This is beyond our - even theological – imagination.   But we were already excluded from all ecclesiastical office- my husband and I   held volunteer positions, but to leave these was for us no disaster.   Furthermore, they can exclude us from the sacraments. Is this already happening?

Heizer: It may be that our priests refuse us communion, which has not happened.   I am baptized, confirmed, married, from priestly ordination, I'm already ruled out,because I am a woman.   For me, three sacraments are left: the Eucharist, Extreme Unction and Penance.These sacraments, they will deny us, if it actually comes to excommunication.   On the other hand, there are instructions to deny no-one Communion. You could therefore also be denied a church funeral?

Heizer: Yes.  But I have many friends who have now told you that they will bury me in any case.  I think the good Lord will take me, regardless of what happens at my funeral. Have you heard anything again from the higher authorities?

Heizer: Yes.  We have  the five  individual interrogations over with, and since then have never heard back.   We would like the minutes that we did not receive them.  We have asked Bishop Scheuer for the minutes and the Diocesan Tribunal's statement to Rome, but we got no response. How would you deal with sanctions?   They don't  really recognise the criticism of the clergy.

Heizer: There is no basis for sanctions.   A penalty, we would not recognize, because we have committed no offense.  There has been no due process. Your critics accuse you of  using the Eucharist  in the  struggle for church reform.

Heizer: This is not a matter for We Are Church, but by our prayer circle.   You can also return the criticism.   It can be said  that the clergy prevent any reforms and fight against the people of the church who have wanted change for so long. The fact that you talk openly about your celebrations of the Eucharist is perceived as provocation.  Rather it would be better for many church leaders if you just did not talk about it.

Heizer: Yes, most do, and it  has been like this for decades    But let us just  not contribute to this hypocrisy.  If in fact, some feel provoked, I cannot help it.   Provocation is called for. We want to call for a  reflection on the forms of the sacraments, when there are no longer enough priests todistribute the sacrament.  So it's a question of how the church will represented in the future.  And whether and how the Eucharist can be celebrated. Recently there was a debate over a parish councilor who lives with a man in a registered partnership.    The question was whether he should take over this office.  He is allowed to – is this is a great revolution in the Church?

Heizer: I think that's normal.   We have so many gay priests, but who do not live in registered partnerships.  They just do it in secret. At Easter, you will then hold another celebration of the Eucharist in the house church .   Can other people join in, if they are sympathetic?

Heizer: It depends not on sympathy.  Anyone can come who wants to.We note only that we have a relatively high standard.   We pray freely, personal, spontaneous and loudly.   A lot of people are not used to that  and for many to intimate.    They are working as a whole very impassively.  Do you take the threat of trouble from Rome at all seriously?

Heizer: We take this very seriously and it is very important to us, but we are willing to give an account of ourselves.   Because we are convinced that we need in the future for the church to break new ground. Thank you.I wish you Happy Easter.

Heizer: I wish you well - and: a few tolerable liturgies.  (Katrin Burgstaller,, 03/04/2012)

Martha Heizer, born 1947, is co-founder and deputy chairman of the platform, "We Are Church". She was a lecturer in religion at the University of Innsbruck.

Cardinal Schönborn backs Pope in word- now he has to back it up with action

Österreich: „Ein paar sehr ernste Fragen“:

Austria: "Some very serious questions"

Cardinal Christoph Schönborn sees in the words of the Pope's Homily at the Chrism Mass in St. Peter's Basilica today an "encouragement to the Church in Austria", The Archbishop of Vienna told Kathpress in a written statement on Thursday afternoon. At the same time the Pope had set the Parish Priest Initiative "some very serious questions." It is apparent from the words of the Pope, how importantly he regards the debate over the future of the Church in Austria and how well he understands the situation there according to Schönborn.

And the Cardinal said further, "This is pastoral care, which encourages people." In a very detailed and thoughtful way, Pope Benedict XVI has addressed on the other hand, the fundamental problem of any renewal- the temptation instead of fulfilling God's will to fulfill one's own Benedict had noted the fundamental basis of every renewal: To regard Christ, and him in humility being obedient to the Father, who is, as we believe as Catholics is disclosed in the Church and her teachings are disclosed.

Pange, lingua,gloriosi


First criminal case against Bishop in office

Judge orders Kansas City bishop to stand trial in abuse case | National Catholic Reporter:

The first criminal case against a sitting U.S. bishop in the decades-long clergy sex abuse crisis will go forward after a county judge's decision Thursday that Bishop Robert Finn, head of the Kansas City-St. Joseph diocese, must stand trial on charges of failing to report suspected child abuse.

The decision, rendered Thursday morning by Jackson County, Mo., Circuit Court Judge John Torrence, denies several motions Finn's lawyers had brought in the case, arguing that charges against the bishop should be thrown out over questions of constitutionality and whether Finn can be considered a "mandated reporter" according to Missouri law.

"The Court finds that the evidence in this case is sufficient to allow a jury to conclude that Bishop Finn was a designated reporter as defined by Missouri law," Torrence wrote in his decision.

More here- carries sentence of up to one year in jail.

The institution of the Holy Eucharist


Pope denounces disobedient priests and sets Cardinal Schönborn massive problems


Pope Benedict XVI issued a rare and explicit denunciation Thursday of priests who have questioned church teaching on celibacy and ordaining women, saying they were being selfish in disobeying his authority.

Benedict made the criticism from the altar of St. Peter’s Basilica in his homily on Holy Thursday, when priests recall the promises they made when ordained.

In 2006, a group of Austrian priests launched the Pfarrer Initiative, a call to disobedience aimed at abolishing priestly celibacy and opening up the clergy to women to relieve the shortages of priests.

Last June, the group essentially threatened a schism, saying the Vatican’s refusal to hear their complaints left them no choice but to “follow our conscience and act independently.”

Cathcon- all this happened on the Cardinal Archbishop of Vienna's watch. It will be now more or less impossible for him to play the appeaser given the Pope's dramatic intervention.   

Dozens of witnesses against Bishop Williamson, as case delayed again

Strafbefehl gegen Holocaust-Leugner Williamson verzögert sich - München -

The completion of the investigation of Holocaust denier Bishop Richard Williamson takes longer than initially planned. In about three weeks, a penalty will be sought for race hatred of of 6500€, said the spokesman for the prosecutors in Regensburg, Wolfhard Meindl,on Tuesday. The Higher Regional Court of Nuremberg was rejected in February the judgment of the District Court of Regensburg against the bishop, from the ultra-Catholic SSPX due to procedural defects. At that stage, the prosecutor had announced a new penalty order would be issued in early April. Williamson denied in a 2008 interview with Swedish television, the mass murder of six million Jews by the Nazis and the existence of gas chambers.

And also from Bild Zeitung In the first penalty order, the prosecution failed to explain how and exactly where in Germany the controversial interview had been published by the Bishop, reasoned the Court of Appeals. "In the current post-investigation, the distribution channel of the interview was reconstructed," said Geiger. In addition, dozens of witnesses had been identified which substantiate the allegations against the 72-year-old bishop.

Incipit Lamentatio Jeremiae Prophetae

Here begins the Lamentation of Jeremiah the Prophet- being then the first two lamentations of the first nocturn.


1.1 ALEPH. Quomodo sedet sola civitas plena populo! Facta est quasi vidua domina gentium; princeps provinciarum facta est sub tributo. 
1.2 BETH. Plorans ploravit in nocte, et lacrimae eius in maxillis eius; non est qui consoletur eam ex omnibus caris eius: omnes amici eius spreverunt eam et facti sunt ei inimici. 
1.3 GHIMEL. Migravit Iudas propter afflictione et multitudine servitutis; habitavit inter gentes nec invenit requiem: omnes persecutores eius apprehenderunt eam inter angustias. 
1.4 DALETH. Viae Sion lugent, eo quod non sint qui veniant ad solemnitatem; omnes portae eius destructae, sacerdotes eius gementes, virgines eius squalidae, et ipsa oppressa amaritudine. 
1.5 HE. Facti sunt hostes eius in capite, inimici eius locupletati sunt, quia Dominus locutus est super eam propter multitudinem iniquitatum eius; parvuli eius ducti sunt captivitatem ante faciem tribulantis. 

Ierusalem, Ierusalem, convertere ad Dominum Deum tuum (Hosea 14:1) 

1.1. ALEPH. How doth the city sit solitary that was full of people! How is the mistress of the peoples become as a widow: the Princes of provinces made tributary! 
1.2. BETH. Weeping she hath wept in the night, and her tears are on her cheeks: there is none to comfort her among all them that were dear to her: all her friends have despised her, and are become her enemies. 1.3. GHIMEL. Juda hath removed her dwelling place because of her affliction, and the greatness of her bondage: she hath dwelt among the nations, and she hath found no rest: all her persecutors have taken her in the midst of straits.  
1.4. DALETH. The ways of Sion mourn, because there are none that come to the solemn feast: all her gates are broken down: her priests sigh: her virgins are in affliction, and she is oppressed with bitterness. 
1.5. HE. Her adversaries are become her lords, her enemies are enriched: because the Lord hath spoken against her for the multitude of her iniquities: her children are led into captivity: before the face of the oppressor. 

Jerusalem, Jerusalem, return to the Lord your God 

1:6 VAU. Et egressus est a filia Sion omnis decor ejus; facti sunt principes ejus velut arietes non invenientes pascua, et abierunt absque fortitudine ante faciem subsequentis. 
1:7 ZAIN. Recordata est Jerusalem dierum afflictionis suæ, et prævaricationis, omnium desiderabilium suorum, quæ habuerat a diebus antiquis, cum caderet populus ejus in manu hostili, et non esset auxiliator: viderunt eam hostes, et deriserunt sabbata ejus. 
1:8 HETH. Peccatum peccavit Hierusalem, propterea instabilis facta est: omnes qui glorificabant eam spreverunt illam: quia viderunt ignominiam eius: ipsa autem gemens et conversa retrorsum. 
1:9 TETH. Sordes eius in pedibus eius: nec recordata est finis sui. Deposita est vehementer: non habens consolatorem. Vide Domine afflictionem meam: quoniam erectus est inimicus. 

Ierusalem, Ierusalem, convertere ad Dominum Deum tuum

1:6 VAU. From the daughter of Zion has departed all her majesty. Her princes have become like harts that find no pasture; they fled without strength before the pursuer. 
1:7 ZAIN. Jerusalem remembers in the days of her affliction and bitterness all the precious things that were hers from days of old. When her people fell into the hand of the foe, and there was none to help her, the foe gloated over her, mocking at her downfall. 
1:8 HETH. Jerusalem sinned grievously, therefore she became filthy; all who honored her despise her, for they have seen her nakedness; yea, she herself groans, and turns her face away. 
1:9 TETH. Her uncleanness was in her skirts; she took no thought of her doom; therefore her fall is terrible, she has no comforter. "O LORD, behold my affliction, for the enemy has triumphed!"

Jerusalem, Jerusalem, return to the Lord your God