Vatican meeting on Austrian problem diocese concludes


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Vatican City, Jun 17, 2009 / 11:36 am (CNA).- Following the reaction of Austrian Catholics in the Diocese of Linz against the Pope's appointment of an auxiliary bishop and liturgical abuses in the diocese, Pope Benedict XVI convoked a two-day meeting of leading bishops from Austria to address the situation.

The gathering was held at the Vatican and included Cardinal Christoph Schonborn of Vienna, Archbishop Alois Kothgasser of Salzburg, Bishop Egon Kapellari of Graz-Seckau and Bishop Ludwig Schwarz of Linz. The Austrian prelates were joined by the heads of five different dicasteries of the Roman Curia, which included the Congregations for Clergy, Bishops and Doctrine of the Faith.

According to the Vatican's press office, "The meeting, characterised by lively 'collegial affection,' served to examine, in a fraternal exchange of ideas and with a constructive spirit, certain questions concerning the situation of the diocese of Linz and of the Church in Austria, proposing solutions to current problems."

The Vatican has recently encountered opposition to its attempts to bring about liturgical reform in the diocese. The most obvious manifestation of this opposition was the refusal to accept the appointment of Fr. Gerhard Maria Wagner as an auxiliary bishop for the Diocese of Linz.

During the June 15-16 meeting with the bishops from Austria, Pope Benedict highlighted the "urgent importance of strengthening faith and of maintaining integral faithfulness to Vatican Council II and to the Church's post-conciliar Magisterium, as well as the need to renew catechesis in the light of the Catechism of the Catholic Church," the press office communiqué said.

Attention also turned to doctrinal and pastoral questions and to the situation of the clergy, the laity, the major seminaries and the theological faculties in Linz and in other dioceses of Austria.

The Austrian bishops, led by Cardinal Schonborn, thanked the Holy Father for his fatherly care for their local Church and for the opportunity to meet with him. The prelates said that the meeting shows that Benedict XVI is close to the Church in Austria, and gave him assurances of their full communion and their affection.

The Austrian bishops also thanked the Roman Curia for its fruitful collaboration and openness.