Thu 23rd Oct 2014 | Last updated: Thu 23rd Oct 2014 at 16:14pm

Facebook Logo Twitter Logo RSS Logo
Hot Topics

Comment & Blogs

What on earth has happened to Cardinal Schönborn?

The one-time defender of orthodoxy has been causing an awful lot of trouble

By on Monday, 5 July 2010

Cardinal Schönborn: there is 'an inconsistency between what he thinks and what he says' (CNS photo)

Cardinal Schönborn: there is 'an inconsistency between what he thinks and what he says' (CNS photo)

What has happened to Cardinal Schönborn – bulwark of orthodoxy against the alternative Magisterium and the loonies of “We are Church”, chief creator of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, disciple and former student of Professor Ratzinger? Now he is being respectfully quoted by the Tablet: in a meeting with editors of the main Austrian newspapers the cardinal, reported the awestruck Pill recently, “declared that … lasting gay relationships deserved respect. He reiterated his view that the Church needs to reconsider its position on remarried divorcees.”

There has also been a call for “re-examination of the requirement for priestly celibacy in the light of the child abuse scandals”; and then there is his support for Medjugorje. His latest headline-catching initiative, of course, was to have a go at Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the former Vatican Secretary of State, saying that he had offended victims of child abuse by calling their complaints “petty gossip”. All this led to the public rebuke by the Pope recently reported in The Catholic Herald.

So what is Cardinal Schönborn playing at? The trouble, says one Vatican observer, is “the inconsistency between what he thinks – completely in line with the Pope – and what he says and does for attention and applause”. Well, maybe. But the cardinal has a defender who deserves respect – Fr Joseph Fessio, founder of the Ignatius Press, and like the cardinal a former student of Professor Ratzinger (I have an interest to declare, since he has published two books of mine). The Tablet, he says, distorted the whole thing (that, of course, is always plausible): Cardinal Schönborn “is not calling for any change in the Church’s teaching or discipline. He is calling for a deeper understanding of the struggle to live the high demands of the moral law… And he is trying to be transparent and responsive to the press.”

All the same, maybe Cardinal Schönborn needs to ponder the fate of General Stanley McChrystal: for, those who think they can handle the media not infrequently find themselves wishing they had just kept quiet.

  • Spirit Daily

    Your bias against Medjugorje flies in the face of its incredible fruits — millions returning to the Church after being there

  • TeDeumBlog

    Of course, we won't ponder the bias Spirit Daily has for the fruits of Medjugorje, to the exclusion of very problematic things surrounding it all.

  • Peter

    I find it interesting how a journalist comes out saying “perhaps Cardinal Schönborn needs to ponder the fate of General Stanley McChrystal: for, those who think they can handle the media not infrequently find themselves wishing they had just kept quiet.” Should the Church have also just kept quiet about Clergy Abuse hoping that it would go away! Surely this article is both deeply disrespectful and rediculous in the light of recent scandals in the Church. Perhaps the Cardinal is just being realistic about current-day questions being asked by the people asking questions that perhaps Church journalists and others in the hierarchy find too uncomfortable to ask…

  • Louis Bélanger

    @Spirit Daily,

    There is no tree that can bear millions of “incredible” fruits, all year long, except an artificial tree…

    Louis Bélanger

  • rentonrain

    One does have to be careful when dealing with the press. Instead of helping put out a fire, the final effect may be that of pouring petrol on it.

  • Peter Kingsley

    Surely Hell and Damnation is a little more of a worry than the Press (though there may be an element of similarity!)

  • Michael Kenny

    Would it be artificial to speak in a 'personal capacity' and a 'the capacity of a bishop'? Probably not, but it might help?

  • Anemone92

    Please at least get the poor man's name right. His name is Schönbrun, not Schönborn.

  • Caroline

    His name IS Schönborn.

    Schöbrunn (with two n's) is the palace in Vienna.

  • Rosary

    Met him in Vienna at a Path to Rome Conference run by Miles Jesu of which I am a married member. He was very orthodox..

  • Philomena Carolan

    I can't say, to be honest that I agree with same sex marriages as, that makes me cringe but, with relaxing celibacy I totally agree with that as, are priests, nuns and monks not human?

    I thought God created man and woman to love and be loved-maybe I have that wrong…..

    Thank you

  • Annmarie

    Cardinal Schoenborn should be VERY careful what he says. Referring to the need for being respectful to long-term same-sex relationships might mean to him that it is unwise to express the truth that they are not (and never can be) given the status of marriage with undue haste, as it will only serve to offend people who see them as something positive.

    However, if you read it quickly and you are neither used to distinguishing the niceties of language nor accustomed to the precision with which a theological statement ought to be made (and nearly everybody who reads it will be in such a position as most are neither linguists nor theologians) you will come to the conclusion that he is endorsing such relationships as desirable.

    Be careful, Your Eminence, be VERY careful ….

    Presuming he spoke in his native German, it would interesting to know how accurately it has been translated, too.

  • gffm

    Cardinal Schönborn's behavior and views are consistent with his past. For years he has advocated interfaith communion–an action that will not happen on this Pope's watch. He showed highly suspicious judgement last year by not attending a pro-life march in his own country and by prohibiting an auxiliary bishop from attending. Thirdly, his rude behavior toward the bishop overseeing Medjugorje for which he was soundly rebuked underscore the misuse of his authority. His call for the “reexamination” of priestly celibacy is by far worse than all of this. It's a red flag and at the very least betrays a kind of basic misunderstanding of the nature of celibacy. Fr. Fessio is not a reliable assessor of anyone's actions considering he is a volatile as the Cardinal.

  • RidersontheStorm

    And Jesus looking on them, saith: With men it is impossible; but not with God: for all things are possible with God. Mark10:27

  • Jmccrea

    He just decided to take his Christianity seriously! What a strange thing for a Cardinal to do, right?

  • Cathal Loftus

    The more I hear utterances from this silly prince of the church the more I am reminded of an ancient wisdom – put not your trust in princes! However, he dresses well, has a nice smile, and is probably a very nice man.

  • An American cousin

    More Medjugorje Controversy? Visionaries to have apparition in Cardinal Schonborn's Cathedral in Vienna

    On September 23 (Padre Pio's Feast Day) Medjugorje visionaries Ivan and Marija will be in Cardinal Schonborn's Cathedral, St. Stephens in Vienna. At 12:40 EDT visionaries Ivan Dragicevic and Marija Pavlovic-Lunetti [will have an apparition of the Gospa.]

  • Jdegi

    I write as a commited Catholic, happy with the Pope, happy with the success of the visit, unhappy at the huge amounts of people leaving the Church.

    First of all, clerical celibacy as a requirement SHOULD be dropped. It was only introduced a thousand years after Christ, mainly for financial reasons (keeping inheritance in the Church) though genuine concern for holiness was probably part of it too. It might shock people to realise that sections of the Roman Catholic church permit their priests to marry. And yes, they are Catholic under the direction of the Pope in Rome. Who are they? The Maronites in Lebanon, the Jacobites in Syria, the Greek Catholics in Ukraine, the Melchites in the Middle East, the Chaldeans of Iraq…. the list goes on and on. All Catholic, yet perfectly eligible to marry.

    Many might say, oh but if priests were to marry they wouldn't be able to keep up. Hogwash, and on two counts. First of all, how on earth do the Maronites do it then? Secondly, if clerical celibacy were dropped and made optional, many more would join the priesthood.

    Why are Latin Catholics denied the possibility of priestly marriage, whereas other Catholics in the same church are allowed to marry whenever they please?

    Simply because there's nothing wrong in it.

    About the only point with which I disagree with Pope Benedict XVI

  • Edward B

    Why do those who reject criticism of the mindless clichés expressed by churchmen pandering to the Catholic hating world always characterize such criticism as being afraid to ask questions. Don’t they recognize a distinction between the declarative and the interrogative?

  • Bveritas

    Yeah you do if you believe this implies there is no place for the Consecrated life.

  • gramps

    To be clear, married men can become priests (but not bishops) in these rites. Priests, however, cannot become married. The same is true in Eastern Orthodoxy. The fullness of the priesthood, that is, in the person of the bishop, is never compatible with the married state.

    On a practical note, the collections at most Catholic parishes are completely inadequate to support married men and their families. Are you willing to double or triple your contributions in order to support a married clergy? Most are not.

  • Logicalcalculus

    @ Jdegi – You talk nonsense. While transubstantiation takes place when a valid priest is married, it is still right for celibacy to be kept – for the reason that laypeople need to be inspired to celibacy and virginity. It is a defined Dogma of the Faith that celibacy / virginity is “better than and preferable to marriage” [Trent] It is a “superior charism” [Cathechism of CC]. Chosen celibacy is higher and nobler than getting married. It imitates form of being [angels] and celibacy is a way of avoiding concupiscience -remember marriage is marriage in the fallen state and is cursed with shame [genisis]

  • Henry

    Would it not be possible to ordain older married men who have raised their families and have no dependent children? With people living into their 90s these days, a man ordained at age 65 would have many years to serve. If he is retired from a job, he would have an independent income and not be a burden on the church.

  • Brencel

    The Sacrament of Marriage was instigated by God before the Fall, when He told us to go forth and multiply. The Sacrament of Orders only appeared after the Fall; there was no need of this Sacrament in God’s original design.

  • Saunders9

    “…Church needs to reconsider its position on remarried divorcees.” I think it has through a very lax annulment system, for example, if I was considered mentally impaired I could gain an annulment. If I was considered immature I could gain an annulment. I can only go on the USA, whereby 98% of people who apply for annulments gains them. I find it kind of hypocritical, but I suppose we just have to pretend that the Church is upholding marriage when it's not. For me personally I can understand annulment in very limited situations but today it's interpreted in such a liberal way I'm not sure anyone wouldn't get an annulment if they applied for it.

  • Uipt

    Celibacy is a discipline of the church, put there for a reason, ….right or wrong, the decision to preserve or maintain it is not that of the laity. So please lets not lobby on it one or the other.
    Celibacy aims at ensuring that a person is able to give themselves wholly to God’s work. Holy orders are not forced. If you wanna be a policeman, you have to wear a uniform and a carry a badge. If you want to be a priest, you have to …..

  • Philomena Carolan

    There are some things I do disagree with on what Cardinal Scoenborn says but, I agree 100% for the Pope to abolish celibacy and for child sex abuse to be looked into MUCH, much more, the Pope has hardly done anything about it, he seems to be more interested in ‘Fast Tracking’ his best friend Pope John Paul II into Sainthood.
    I am far from saying hPope John Paul II does not deserve it but, to be quite honest, I think there are much more important things should be on the agender rather than beatitying a person who first was a Pope, the present Popes best friend and it is also based on one woman who it even says (claims to have had Parkinsons Disease and, she just happens to be a nun, I am sorry but, please come on, is this fair to all those abused people out there, I don’t think this Pope is being at all fair with anyone, he seems to be doing things for his own ends, he even has everyone mixed up with his outrages views on condoms.

    No, I do agree that celibacy should be abolished and to revert back to the days of St. Peter, he was married. And many other Popes too, why not.

    Thank you

  • Maggsoc

    Jdegi does not talk nonsense.

  • HVH fan

    Its not just on the discipline of priestly celibacy that Card Schonborn has gone awry. He seems to have completely lost the plot! From hosting blasphemous and pornographic ‘art installations’ in his cathedral to not only inviting the Medjugorje “seers” in the same cathedral, but even travelling to Medj himself in their support – a real slap in the face to the local hierarchy. So much for “episcopal unity”!! Benedict made him issue a public apology to the Local Ordinary of that beleagured place.

  • Philomena Carolan

    This is old news with todays date-why?

  • Philomena Carolan

    I agree totally, I have sent endless emails to the Pope himself about this.

    Someone somewherre has the authority to force the Pope to resign but why haven’t they as the church is in such a crisis? It makes no sense to me!

    Thank you

  • Philomena Carolan

    Why is it though that in only certain places catholic priests can marry but not all over the globe, I can’t work that out?

  • Philomena Carolan

    Why? celibacy in many counties does not even apply so, why is celibacy for too many counties and not for the globe,?

    Really celibacy should be abolished, at one time before this Pope was here, he was the very person who wanted it abolished and now look, for some reason in a way, he has gone back on his word and look at the state of the church now, it is worse than ever.

    The whole world and his wife are screeming out to the pope to abolish celibacy, and someone somewher has the authority to force him to resign but won’t, if they know full well there is huge battle against celibacy then-whats the hold-up, it just doesn’t make sense! 

  • Philomena Carolan

    Okay then, why was St. Peter the first pope married then?

  • Philomena Carolan

    The same thing would have been said during the marriage vows between St. Peter and his wife, so please, what’s the difference?

  • Philomena Carolan

    Maybe not but, this Pope sure does.

  • Philomena Carolan

    Orders are the for a reason wether or not they are Holy yes! Well put it this way, in the old days when people were ill and they have needed medicine and it has ALWAYS worked but, for some reason, you have someone putting this new medicine in place, it works for a while but, people start showing symptoms of the same kind before the new one was there and at first the doctor continues with the new one and insists that it is working but, in the end there is an outcry to revert back to the old medincine as there has been a huge decline in the new one for patients to recover so, does that mean that with the new medicine people have to suffer because the doctor just won’t listen to the patients needs or, does the doctor finally wake up to the cause of the problem and revert back to the original medication and finally everyone is back to good health again-so which is it, continue being unwell with new medicine or get better with the old stuff that did actually work. After all something has to give eventually but this stupid pope won’t budge and he badly needs to please, just think about it.

  • Philomena Carolan

    Yes! very nice expensive clothes and a very stupid and foolish man and I think he has a silly smile to be honest, but please forgive me for saying that as you sound like a nice person so, I will take that back.

  • Philomena Carolan

    Can I ask please of how an artificial tree can bear fruit?

  • Philomena Carolan

    In the mean time, there is a huge problem, I still think it is unfair.

  • Philomena Carolan

    Don’t you mean Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Cardinal Schonborn has been very much a part of trying to get celibacy abolished and trying to make pope benedict come to he senses.

    I hardly think that someone is holding porn when they are trying to fix things!

  • Anonymous

    HVH fan (unregistered) wrote:

    Its not just on the discipline of priestly celibacy that Card Schonborn has gone awry. He seems to have completely lost the plot! From hosting blasphemous and pornographic ‘art installations’ in his cathedral to not only inviting the Medjugorje “seers” in the same cathedral, but even travelling to Medj himself in their support – a real slap in the face to the local hierarchy. So much for “episcopal unity”!! Benedict made him issue a public apology to the Local Ordinary of that beleagured place.

  • Anonymous

    I have copied and pasted the below persons message to let readers know what I am responding toand that unless I see proof of the remark made about Cardinal Christoph Schonborn, I refuse to beleive it after all he has done to help rebuild the church.  

  • Anonymous

    I would not be at all surprised if we hear something like that about this pope with the way he is keeping things far too quiet to say the least and his non response to abolishing celibacy, something is stopping him from abolishing it.

  • Warmale

    Looks like your emails have had the desired effect!