Pfaffer Initiative An Appeal to Disobedience
The Pfarrer Initiative is an open call to disobedience by nearly 400 Roman Catholic priests and deacons in Austria. As such, they constitute roughly 10% of the Austrian Roman Catholic clergy.
This initiative arises out of two major issues that increasingly face Roman Catholic priests across Europe and North America. How to offer the sacraments and pastoral care, to the ever increasing number of people whose lives do not conform exactly to official Roman Catholic doctrine. And how to overcome the ever increasing shortage of priests. What the Pfarrer Initiative calls for is radical change. But it is also a call for honesty rather than the hypocrisy that exists at present
Appeal to Disobedience
The Roman refusal to take up long needed reforms and the inaction of the bishops, not only permits but demands that we follow our conscience and act independently:
We priests want to set a mark for the future:
1. WE WILL include a petition for church reform in every liturgy.
2. WE WILL not deny Communion to faithful of good will, especially remarried people, members of other Christian churches, and in some cases those who have officially left the Catholic Church.*
3. WE WILL avoid as much as possible celebrating multiple times on Sundays and feast days, and avoid scheduling priests travelling around or priests unknown to the community. A locally-planned Liturgy of the Word is preferable to providing guest performances.
4. WE WILL use the term “Priestless Eucharistic Celebration” for a Liturgy of the Word with distribution of Communion. This is how the Sunday Mass obligation is fulfilled when priests are in short supply.
5. WE WILL ignore the prohibition of preaching by competently trained laity, including female religion teachers. In difficult times, the Word of God must be proclaimed.
6. WE WILL advocate that every parish has a presiding leader – man or woman, married or unmarried, full-time or part time. Rather than consolidating parishes, We call for a new image of the priest.
7. WE WILL take every opportunity to speak up publicly for the admission of women and married people to the priesthood. These would be welcome colleagues in ministry.
We express solidarity with colleagues no longer permitted to exercise their ministry because we have married, and also with those in ministry who live in a permanent relationship. Both groups live in accordance with their conscience – as we do with our protest. We see in them as we do in our bishops and the pope our brothers. **
* Here we refer to those who officially leave the Church; some to avoid Church Tax as a means of protest
** This is a reference to the German Word “Mitbruder” instead of “Bruder” (=brother) which is sometimes used by clerics and excludes the laity.
Trinity Sunday, 19Th June, 2011