|Where is the media coverage on the latest doings in the Austrian Church?
The following short article is from Britian's Tablet. It's about the only Anglo outlet that covered this story, and this little bare bones article would seem to be the extent of the Tablet's coverage. This is mind boggling to me, because Cardinal Schonborn has essentially announced the Austrian Catholic Church is on life support.
Vienna cuts 75 per cent of parishes
The 660 parishes in the Archdiocese of Vienna are to be drastically reduced over the next 10 years to just 150.
The Archbishop of Vienna, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, made the announcement to a startled audience of journalists at the annual media reception at the archbishops' palace on 20 September. (I can well imagine the media was startled. Maybe that's why there hasn't been any coverage.)
The main factors behind the restructuring are the declining number of churchgoing Catholics and the shortage of priests. Parishes in the archdiocese will in future be much larger, with three to five priests in charge, one of whom will be responsible to the archbishop. Each of these large parishes will be run jointly by priests and lay Catholics.
Cardinal Schönborn described the move as "probably the greatest structural reorganisation of the Vienna archdiocese for 200 years". (Maybe since the Reformation.)
Cardinal Schonborn announces this on September 20 and outlets like America, NCR, and Commonweal haven't uttered a peep? Why is this? Is it just to stark a story to report? Maybe.
Cardinal Schonborn is essentially announcing a 75% down sizing in the Austrian Catholic Church. Off hand I can't think of too many enterprises that have announced this kind of massive cut and still survived. JPII and Pope Benedict seem to have accomplished their goal of a 'remnant church' in Austria. Whether this will continue to be a viable church remains to be seen. I'm not naive enough to think this is strictly an Austrian phenomenon. I suspect France will be next and more dominoes to fall as time progresses. It would seem to be a propitious time for a synod on a New Evangelization, but stacking that synod with the cast of characters who did so much to bring about the remnant church hardly seems to be the path of renewal. Maybe the timing of this announcement is Cardinal Schonborns way of making a point. Retreating to the past is not a form of new evangelizing and it doesn't work.
Or maybe it's Schonborn's way of sending a message to his rebellious priests and laity, that in the much smaller Austrian Church of the immediate future, their participation is not necessary. I would hope that's not the intended message, but in today's Church in Europe who knows. I do know 400 rebellious priests is more than enough to get a good start on a truly reformed Catholic Church and maybe that's what's in the cards in Austria.