On Wednesday night, former monsignor Helmut Schuller spoke at the First Church and Parish in Dedham (Unitarian Universalist), following a decision by Cardinal Sean O’Malley prohibiting Saint Susanna’s Parish in Dedham from showcasing the Austrian dissident. Saint Susanna’s, along with the pro-abortion group,Voice of the Faithful, was still listed as one of the event’s sponsors.
Schuller, founder of the heterodox Austrian Priests’ Initiative, and author of the Call to Disobedience, had originally been invited to speak at Saint Susanna’s. His fifteen city American tour is being sponsored by Call to Action, FutureChurch, New Ways Ministry, CORPUS, Dignity, the Women’s Ordination Conference, and so-called Voice of the Faithful.
Speaking to an overflow crowd of elderly whites, Schuller contended that the Church must embrace “modern thinking” and accept married priests, partnered priests, female priests and laicized priests who abandoned their vocations. He also advocated the distribution of Holy Communion to non-Catholics, ex-Catholics and Catholics in a state of mortal sin, and giving preference to locally led lay services over Mass by visiting priests.
Part of the Q&A was devoted the question of salvation, with Schuller contending that those outside the church can be saved, asking “After all, who is a believer?” and asserting that “Non-believers were the darlings of Jesus.” Schuller also claimed, despite the authoritative teachings of two popes, that Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, in which Pope John Paul II stated that the Church “has no authority whatsoever” to ordain women, is not infallible.
Catholic Action League Executive Director C. J. Doyle made the following comment:”Although the media describes him as a ‘reformer,’ there is nothing either original or reformist in what Helmut Schuller has to say. He advocates conformity to the dominant culture, submission to secular values and surrender to the spirit of the times.”
“Authentic Catholic reform is characterised by repentance for sin, interior conversion and the personal pursuit of holiness. Sanctity, not ‘structural change,’ is the object of genuine reform. The Protestant conception of reform has always entailed revolution in doctrine, discipline and liturgy. Schuller’s approach is markedly neo-Protestant, perhaps even classically Protestant. This is evident not only in his attack on the authority of the Pope and the bishops, but in his attempt to diminish the centrality of the Mass in Catholic life and worship, and in his implicit denial of the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, by trivializing the conditions of Eucharistic reception.”
“Schuller’s vision for the Church offers nothing but intellectual appeasement, doctrinal error, moral corruption, institutional division and spiritual sterility. He and his followers are on a trajectory to schism. The good news, judging from the composition of his audience, is that this schism, if it comes, will be limited to aging, bourgeois refugees from the nineteen-sixties.”