CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 8 December 2018

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Austrian and German bishops stand by pope

VIENNA (CNS) “This criticism comes from circles in the Church who want to get rid of this pope as soon as possible.”  Cardinal Christoph Schonborn of Vienna, Austria, wrote in a column on September 7 in the weekly newspaper, Heute, as bishops in Germany and Austria united to support Pope Francis in response to Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, former papal nuncio to the United States, calling on the pope to resign for allegedly ignoring sanctions Pope Benedict XVI had placed on then-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick for sexual misconduct.
 
Cardinal Schonborn called him a “fighter against injustice and exploitation” who “stands against sexual abuse in the Church with great determination.” 
 
Levelling reproach at unnamed Vatican officials, he observed that the pontiff’s opponents are exploiting the opportunity to criticise him during a time when he is experiencing difficult days.
 
“I thank God for such a compelling shepherd,” the Austrian cardinal concluded. “Thank you, Papa Francesco!”
 
Cardinal Schonborn’s comments followed calls in Germany from four bishops, previously at odds with Pope Francis in the debate over communion for civilly divorced and remarried Catholics were unanimous in their call for Catholics, to remain loyal to the pope.
 
“It is time to stand behind the pope and support his efforts for clarification, restoration and prevention,” Bishop Peter Kohlgraf of Mainz, wrote on his Facebook page on September 3.
 
“It cannot be that Catholics are only loyal to the pope as long as he represents their opinions. Without loyalty to the pope, it is not possible to be Catholic,” Bishop Kohlgraf said.
 
Bishop Stefan Oster of Passau, expressed strong support for Pope Francis in a blog post on his personal website, titled, Why I believe Pope Francis.
 
He said he analysed debates between liberal and traditional Catholics and determined that the pope is neither a liberal nor a conservative.
 
He identified four key teachings of the pope: personal love for Jesus, love in the family, love for the environment, and the universal call to holiness.
 
Bishop sees Pope Francis as someone who “wants to consistently lead the Church on a path of renewal that is neither liberal nor conservative, but one of a spirit of holiness, a spirit of the Lord in the present, which becomes a witness for the world and a place where every person—and the world—can experience God’s transformative love and become more healed in his heart.”
 
These views were echoed by Bishop Gebhard Furst of Rottenburg-Stuttgart, who posted on Twitter on September 3: “I follow him (Pope Francis) on the path to renewal of the Church, which he has consistently followed since the beginning of his papacy.” 
 
Bishop Wolfgang Ipolt of Gorlitz, also expressed confidence in the pope’s leadership, telling KNA, Germany’s Catholic news agency, in early September that it is easy for others to cast blame while not having to take responsibility.

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