Priest who did all the right things forced to resign

Priest divided the parish

Many of the faithful in the Pillerseetal breathe a sigh of relief: after years of quarrelling about the conservative priest Ralf Peter, he will leave Fieberbrunn in August.

Six years ago, priest Ralf Peter began his ministry in the Pillerseetal, with the task of looking after the faithful of Fieberbrunn and Hochfilzen. Now the 52-year-old German-born priest will leave the parish in August. This has caused a great sigh of relief among many of the faithful, who have increasingly stayed away from church due to the priest's more than strict and, above all, massively conservative approach.

Father Peter on left

Several times the criticism of priest Ralf Peter was brought to the attention of the Diocese of Salzburg, but apparently this did not show the desired success. There have been numerous attempts at mediation, emphasises Vicar General Roland Rasser, who has been intensively involved in the matter, especially in recent months. Both bishops also sought talks with the priest - now Ralf Peter informed the parish of his departure. He resigned for health reasons, as he announced in a notice.

The difficulties in the parish of Fieberbrunn have existed for a long time. Already three years ago, the majority of the then parish council threw in the towel. Apparently they could no longer work together with Father Peter.

Obviously he succeeded with the existing one, but a large group of believers felt they had been thrown out.

No more Mass in the old people's home

So the priest stopped celebrating weekly mass in the chapel of the old people's home because it was "not a holy place". The most serious thing for the faithful is that the priest stands with his back to the faithful during the service and apparently repeatedly celebrates mass in Latin. The songs sung during the service were strictly limited, even the music band was not allowed to remain in the sanctuary during the traditional Cecilia Mass. The student services were also kept as simple as possible so as not to present themselves as an open church. A catalogue of points for First Communion and Confirmation celebrations had to be adhered to - the joy of such important celebrations was gone. Recently, Father Ralf Peter refused to consecrate the Advent wreath for the school because it was not yet Advent time. The neighbouring priest took over.

Parish priest abolished extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist

The family services were cancelled, and the lectors and extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist were abolished. The list of points that drove the faithful out of the church could be extended indefinitely. It is said that it was very difficult to talk to them because the clergy surrounded themselves with protectors.

Finally, a group of Fieberbrunn Catholics - since there was no reaction from the diocese - initiated a petition. Well over 100 signatures have already been submitted. One of the initiators made it clear that they were not concerned with the removal of the priest, but with getting the diocese to listen.

The first talks then also took place. Incidentally, the fact that Father Ralf Peter celebrated with his back to the faithful was approved by the Diocese. The reason was that he would be irritated by the faithful present during the consecration if he had to look into their faces. In a notice, he justified his departure with health problems. He no longer had the strength to face arguments, he said.

According to Vicar General Rasser, the position will be advertised.


"I celebrate Mass exclusively as it is prescribed in the Roman Catholic rite."

He had invoked his conscience and wanted to be able to concentrate fully on the Eucharistic event. 

Peter had started in autumn last year to no longer celebrate Mass at the nave altar. "This irritated many. Mass to the people is part of our work, removing the nave altar is an absolute no-go," the "Salzburger Nachrichten" quoted the Archdiocese's Vicar General, Roland Rasser. 

A spokesman for the Archdiocese explained that the parish priest had not dismantled the nave altar, but had moved it towards the High Altar. The parish priest had only moved the nave altar because he wanted more space for the genuflection.