Evangelizing the institutional church: an interview with Helmut Schuller

Helmut Schüller

Much has been written about Austrian priest and reformer Helmut Schüller since he opened his 15-city U.S. tour, called The Catholic Tipping Point, in New York last week.

Schüller has been making news in the Roman Catholic church reform movement since 2006, when he and a group of fellow priests organized the Austrian Priests' Initiative. In 2011, they made global headlines when they launched the "Call for Disobedience," an appeal to the Vatican to address the shortage of priests and other predicaments facing the institutional church.

The Austrian Priests' Initiative is concerned that the dwindling number of clergy is impacting the quality of pastoral care offered to baptized Catholics. Their "Call for Disobedience" suggests reforms such as the ordination of women and married men to address this unfolding crisis.

{josquote}Our teaching should concentrate on the quality of relationships, not the form.{/josquote}

What makes Schüller an intriguing figure among reformers is that he is not simply an upstart parish priest. He spent years as a hierarchical insider, filling the very public roles of president of Caritas Austria and vicar general under Austrian Cardinal Christoph Schönborn. He has the rare insight of one who has served both in the hierarchy and in the parish. Rarer still, he has risked his position and privilege to be in full, outspoken solidarity with lay Catholic reformers.

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