Pope Benedict used Holy Thursday to denounce the Pfarrer Initiative, which is a group of about 300 priests in Austria openly support the inclusion of female and married priests. I posted a short entry about this group last year, though they have been around since 2006. The group has put out a "Call to Disobedience," which encourages parishes to let women preach and for a lay person to celebrate Eucharist when no priest is available. They are opposed to any parish closing because of the priest shortage. The Austrian bishops have not imposed any penalty on these priests as of yet and in January their bishops met with Vatican officials to discuss the group.
Benedict chided the group for encouraging change in the church through disobedience and for putting their own preferences and ideas before that of Christ. Especially on this last point, Benedict is completely wrong. These priests are risking their own livelihoods to proclaim a message that they feel has been delivered to them by the Spirit--and for that they should be commended. Disobedience in the church is tricky business, but so is closing church doors for lack of priests. Real change in church and society only comes about from sacrifice and being a pain in the neck. On this Triduum weekend, I thank these Austrian priests for their courage and perseverance in asking the bishops to respect the call to the priesthood received by women and married persons.
A Faithful Catholic