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Boston Cardinal Nixes Austrian Priest's Talk At Dedham Parish

This article is more than 7 years old.

Boston Cardinal Sean O'Malley banned an Austrian priest from speaking at a parish because the priest advocates ordaining women and making celibacy for priests optional.

The Rev. Helmut Schuller was scheduled to speak at Saint Susanna Parish in Dedham on July 17 as part of a 15-city U.S. tour. His talk has been moved to a nearby Unitarian Universalist church, The Boston Globe reported Wednesday.

Terry Donilon, a spokesman for the archdiocese, said in a statement that the archdiocese's policy is "not to permit individuals to conduct speaking engagements in Catholic parishes or at church events when those individuals promote positions that are contrary to Catholic teachings."

Schuller is founder of the Austrian Priests' Initiative, which advocates allowing women and married people to become priests as a way to address a global priest shortage. The initiative organized a "Call to Disobedience," which was signed two years ago by several hundred priests who pledged, among other things, to begin serving communion to non-Catholics, promote women's ordination, and let trained laity preach.

Schuller's appearance in Dedham was sponsored by a coalition of Catholic groups, including the lay group Voice of the Faithful and FutureChurch, which advocates opening ordination to all baptized Catholics.

FutureChurch's executive director, Sister Chris Schenk, said she had expected O'Malley to be more sympathetic about Schuller's appearance, because he is dealing with the "ravages" of the priest shortage.

"Laypeople have to be able to have a voice and a venue to talk about their honest concerns and questions, and to just refuse any Catholic venue for this conversation to take place sends a very, very sad message," she said.

This program aired on June 26, 2013. The audio for this program is not available.

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