A friend sends the letter and Chrism Mass homily  (which Google Chrome will nicely translate for you) from Christoph Cardinal Schönborn dealing with his decision to allow an openly homosexual young man to serve on the parish council to which the people of the parish had elected him. For that, he was quickly jumped on on blog after blog.

The homily gives a much fuller explanation of his thinking than the letter, and readers interested in the matter should read it. In the letter, which I couldn’t find online, he begins by “reiterat[ing]my uncompromised commitment to the Magisterium of the Church in all its fullness, including the Church’s unambiguous teaching on homosexuality,” providing a number of examples. He then turns to

the case of Mr. Florian Stangl. In this very specific and complex case I assumed my pastoral responsibility toward a young man seriously committed in his faith and who has been active in parish life since his childhood. He is fully aware of the Church’s teaching on homosexuality and in meeting with Mr. Stangl I have underlined the relevant consequences of these teachings with regard to his own situation. I consider it my pastoral duty to continue to guide Mr. Stangl towards a full life in Christ.

My decision not to intervene in the already completed election by his fellow parishioners of Florian Stangl to their parish council — the results of which do not need approval of the Archbishop in order to be final — was inspired by my genuine desire to help a young man find his way towards a life in union with God’s plan for creation (see my attached sermon of April 2nd which explains this in further detail).

It should also be noted here that the main function of a parish council – composed exclusively of volunteers - is to support the local priest in the organization of parish activities. Doctrinal and liturgical matters explicitly fall outside the scope of responsibilities of the parish council.


The cardinal then complains that “a carefully considered pastoral decision, with all its complexity, is so easily taken by some as an occasion to question a bishop’s fidelity to the Magisterium of the Church.” He concludes by describing the problem that required the pastoral decision and his response:
In Familiaris Consortio , quoted in CCC  1651, John Paul II specifically calls upon the Church to find ways to integrate people “who live in situations that objectively contravene God’s law” ( CCC 1650) but who “can and must participate as baptized persons” in the life of the Church.

As I stated in my homily during the Holy Mass of Chrism earlier this week, there is an approach that is neither rigorist nor lax, but in which the law is completed by love. In order to understand and live the Creator’s “master plan”, it is important to recall the norm again and again — but it is not enough. There is only one way to do this, a way that Jesus’ disciples had the chance to learn: by coming to know Jesus better, by growing into his friendship. Only a lived friendship with Jesus can foster in us an inner understanding of the heart for the Creator’s master plan.

“Religion itself, without the experience of the wondrous discovery of the Son of God and communion with him who became our brother, becomes a mere set of principles which are increasingly difficult to understand, and rules which are increasingly hard to accept.” (Blessed John Paul II, Meeting with Youth of  Kazakhstan , 23 September 2001)

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