What’s Up With Cardinal Schönborn?

When the Austrian Cardinal criticized Cardinal Sodano and the curial culture last week, I have to admit I did a double-take. Cardinal Schönborn has been on my radar as being innocent on science. While I may not think too much of his views on evolution, he may be dead-on correct about the curia. Perhaps pragmatic on other issues. He doesn’t endorse same-sex relationships, but any concession at all to the hordes outside the gates of traditional marriage is tantamount to heresy in some circles:

We should give more consideration to the quality of homosexual relationships. A stable relationship is certainly better than if someone chooses to be promiscuous.

All I see here is the distinction between serial sex and stability. It has been noted many places that the Church’s stance on homosexuality seems to give more leeway to promiscuity than stability. Take that Colorado case about the children of lesbians getting bounced from school. If a single mom had a one-night affair or even a series of flings with other women, do you think the kids would have been unwelcome? Or if a Catholic school kid had a philanderer as a mom or a dad? Would Archbishop Chaput be complaining that the promiscuity taught in the home by these actions would confuse the attempt to instill sex-only-within-marriage values at the school? Heaven forbid an upright bishop would start looking at the sex on Catholic students’ living room tv’s.


The cardinal also said the Church needed to reconsider its view of re-married divorcees “as many people don’t even marry at all any longer”.

Well, people are still marrying … eventually. Is the Church prepared to make sure most couples stay on that track? I doubt it. The neo-orthodox bishops seem content to wring their hands, draw their applause, and keep movin’ on up the corporate ecclesiastical ladder. Cardinal Schönborn seems to be as high as he’s likely to get, despite a former vote of confidence from one of St Blog’s top voices.

And as for re-marriages, consider if the bishops are prepared to accept promiscuity or live-in relationships as an alternative to the Orthodox practice of blessing a second marriage after a divorce. The Orthodox sacramental system is still valid, right?

James Martin sums up my thoughts well:

On those last two topics (gays and remarried Catholics) let’s see how long it takes for (a) the Vatican to distance itself from Schönborn’s comments; or (b) Schönborn himself to say he was misquoted.  If (b) doesn’t happen, don’t be surprised if he starts turning up at your local Voice of the Faithful meeting.

Well, b is really what happened. He wasn’t misquoted so much as he was sensationalized. The cardinal didn’t propose overturning moral theology on this one. According to The Tablet, he said we should look at the issues. Naturally, some in their cocooned version of Catholicism see that as equivalent to heresy. The next thing you know the whole culture will go into the handbasket and in fifty years Britney Spears will be channeling her inner Tom Peters on the anniversary. And maybe one major Catholic whiplash moment in a century borders on too much.


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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5 Responses to What’s Up With Cardinal Schönborn?

  1. Karl says:

    Thank God, I defected from the Catholic Church!

  2. smf says:

    The Orthodox sacraments can generally be presumed to be valid, but not a second marriage. From a Catholic point of view the Church doesn’t have the power of divorce, nor of second marriage of someone currently married. Thus from a Catholic POV such would be considered utterly null and completely void, just as any Catholic attempt at a second marriage would be null and void.

  3. The Orthodox do not see second marriage as a sacrament.

  4. Jimmy Mac says:

    Most Catholics don’t see any marriage as a sacrament! You can tell that quite readily by the cavalier manner in which they treat the ceremony, and with which so many abandon their marriages at the drop of an “irreconcilable difference.”

  5. Mike says:

    What Karl said.

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