November 21, 2011

Austria’s Catholic bishops have rejected a call by dissident Church members for laypeople to begin celebrating Mass in parishes with no priests.

The bishops said that some demands connected to “this call for disobedience at the initiative of priests and laity are simply unsustainable” and breach “the central truth of our Catholic faith.”

A statement issued at the end of the Nov. 7-10 meeting said: “As bishops, we are all naturally concerned about our church’s real and serious problems – Austrian dioceses are facing up to the situation and taking opportunities to innovate.”

On Nov. 5, the Austrian branch of the We Are Church movement said laypeople should start making up for clergy shortages by consecrating and distributing Holy Communion, as well as preaching and presiding at Mass.

The bishops said, “the summons to disobedience has not only left many Catholics shaking their heads, but also triggered alarm and sadness.”