Friday 10 September 2010

Cardinal Schonborn: Four Months, and In Benedict's Favour.

It is now over four months since the Cardinal Archbishop of Vienna made his remarks on the need to replace the Catholic obsession with homosexual acts with far greater emphasis on the quality of the relationships. For all those who expected a flood of outraged repudiation and denial, there has been  -  nothing, not a peep. There was a well-publicized meeting with Pope Benedict that some observers saw as a dressing-down - but the discussions appear to have been solely on the criticisms of Cardinal Sordano, not the remarks on sexuality. Even that, if it was indeed some kind of rebuke, is quite clearly now gone and forgotten. For the pope's annual gathering of his former theology students, Cardinal Schonborn had a signal place of honour, being invited to deliver the homily at the closing Mass, which Benedict himself celebrated.  This is what Rocco Palma had to say at Whispers in the Loggia:

On a Vatican tea-leaves note, the annual symposium saw the return of the lone non-Ratzinger alum to be "grandfathered" into the study-group: Vienna's Cardinal Christoph Schönborn (left; Koch at right), whose last appearance in Benedict's orbit saw him receive an unprecedented trip to the Papal Woodshed for springtime comments which were viewed in some quarters as an excessive call for mandatory priestly celibacy to be "examined"as a possible cause of clergy sexual abuse, and his assertion that the dean of the College of Cardinals, the retired Secretary of State Angelo Sodano, "deeply wronged the victims" with his widely-criticized Easter morning praise of Benedict for holding firm amid "the petty gossip of the moment."
However, all seems to be especially forgiven now -- in what can only be construed as a particular sign of the pontiff's continuing trust in and esteem for the editor of the church's first universal catechism since Trent, Schönborn was called upon to preach Sunday's closing Mass of the Schülerkreis,which Benedict celebrated.
Meanwhile, as I have noted before, instead of criticisms from colleagues, there have been similar statements from three other bishops, and more recently another (somewhat more guarded ) statement from the American Bishop Matthew Clark of Rochester,  who has emphasised that  the full traditional teaching on homosexuality includes an emphasis on dignity and respect. Bishop Clark's observations, drawing heavily on the US Bishops' pastoral letter, "All Our Children" is hardly new - but in drawing on a theme which has been too  much ignored, and calling attention to the "pain" felt by gay men and lesbians and their families, this must be seen as another sign not of new teaching, but at least of a new mood and tone in approaching matters of same sex attraction in the church.

These are all mere straws in the wind - but each will strengthen others. I no longer have any doubt that there will be many more in the months ahead, which will surely gather into full winds of change to blow away the cobwebs of Vatican sexual doctrine obscuring more authentic Christianity.

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