IS THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IN NEED OF REFORM?

Bishop Helmut Kratzl, the popular auxiliary Catholic bishop of Vienna, has just published a new book entitled A Church with a Future.

Bishop Kratzl calls for an end to the Church’s ban on married priests and the use of birth control, arguing that a backlog of necessary reforms is draining the Church of its strength and preventing it from asserting its presence in today’s world.

He cites surveys that show celibacy to be a key reason for the drastic fall in vocations. The bishop advocates the model of the Greek Catholic Church, which is in full communion with Rome and yet permits married men to become priests, but not bishops.

The bishop says the fact the Church forbids birth control but that so many Catholics practise it has lost the Church much credibility.

Bishop Kratzl also tackles the subject of remarried divorcees. He notes a solution practised in the Orthodox Church, where a second church marriage is possible and divorcees are not barred from the sacraments.

The bishop also called for steps to be taken towards intercommunion with other churches. (The fact is more and more Catholics are now taking communion in churches such as Anglican ones. This is reform from the bottom, not the top.)

Do you generally agree with Bishop Herzl’s vision of a future Catholic church?

Why do you think so few Canadian and American bishops are afraid to even discuss these issues? Is it, perhaps, that they fear for their ecclesiastical careers?

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12 Comments »

  1. 1
    Chimera Says:

    Bishop Kratzl sounds like a most intelligent, forward-thinking observer of human nature.

    Someone’s gonna have to take him out and shoot him. 😉

  2. 2
    Paul Costopoulos Says:

    The good bishop will not be shot but silenced as is the custom. He will retreat to one of the fine monasteries I heard they have in the mountains out there, never to be heard from again for many centuries. Cardinal Ratzinger is not dead, just reincarnated as Benedict XVI.
    However as Father Lachance, my respected teacher 60 years ago used to say: “Gentlemen the Church is divine. The proof is that for 2000 years all the Popes and the clergy have been unable to destroy it”.

  3. 3

    Chimera & Paul,

    Shot or silenced? I am not quite as pessimistic. In fact I am heartened by the fact yet another European bishop has stood up and addessed some of the serious issues facing the Church today. There will be more.

    At the same time I am depressed that most bishops on this side of the water don’t have the guts to come out and say what many of them are thinking. A pity.

  4. 4
    Paul Costopoulos Says:

    Neil,
    Are there that many Canadian bishops who would join Monsignor Gratzl? Certainly not Cardinal Ouellet nor Cardinal Turcotte. Most Ontario bishops are most conservative. My late brother, but younger than I am nonetheless, lived in Windsor, ON, he was a churchgoer and very active in his parish, the poor guy would have gone straigth to his rosary had he read what you wrote. Most Quebecers still going to church would be angry at bishop Gratzl. Nearby in Longueuil we have one of the few parish gone back to the Tridantine Mass.
    If one of bishop went that way, he would empty his churches of the few worshipers left who would seek a nice comfortable conservative diocese.

  5. 5

    Paul:

    Sadly, I am afraid you are right. However, there were some indications at the Taylor-Bouchard hearings that this province is more Catholic than we thought. Secondly, there are groups of Catholic young people in Quebec who would be cheering on Bishop Gratzl.

  6. 6
    Ivo Sefton de Azevedo Says:

    I liked reading about Bishop Helmut Krätzl’s book. As I can’t read German, I wonder if/when the book is published in English (or Portuguese or Spanish). I would appreciate it if you could show me how to find English (or Portuguese or Spanish) texts by/on Bishop Krätzl. Thank you.
    Ivo Sefton de Azevedo
    Porto Alegre, RS
    Brazil

  7. 7
    Barbara Says:

    Neil, why don’t you create a link to that book somewhere on the net so that interested people could order it and read it for themselves?

  8. 8

    Ivo,

    Thanks for your inquiry. I believe the book is only available in German at the present time.

    Barbara,

    I am not sure how to create a link to Bishop Kratzl’s book on the net.

  9. 9
    Chimera Says:

    “I am not sure how to create a link to Bishop Kratzl’s book on the net.”

    The easiest way to create a link to anything is to copy the url in the address line and past it into your text, either on the blog article or in the comments. Like this:

    http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_ss_b/002-8335774-4405634?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=Helmut+Kratzl&x=14&y=18

    (Now, I just hope that works; it’s a very long url…)

  10. 10
    Ivo Sefton de Azevedo Says:

    If I can’t read the book now because it has only been published in German, could anybody find any other sort of text by Bishop Krätzl or about him and his work either in English, Portuguese, Spanish or French? Any article, news piece or whatever? I had already heard about Bishop Krätzl as a progressive and I’d be most grateful if somebody could help me. Thank you!

  11. 11

    Ivo:

    I read a comment about Bishop Kratzl’s latest book in the Catholic journal, The Tablet, out of London, England.
    I suggest you contact their bookstore and ask them for more information.
    The address is tabletbookshop@shineonline.net

    Good luck.

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