The Archdiocese of Philadelphia is not happy about a Catholic priest from Austria who’s set to speak tonight at Chestnut Hill College. Three local church reform organizations invited the controversial dissident who advocates for admitting women and married men to the priesthood.
Rev. Helmut Schuller said he’s happy to have the opportunity to spread his message about opening up the priesthood to more than single men, allowing Catholics to get a divorce and ending celibacy for priests. “For me that are questions concerning the future of the church and for the church in a modern society. So there are no difficulties for me to present them and to stand behind them.”
But Schuller’s remarks are concerning to other Catholics. Archdiocese of Philadelphia spokesman Kenneth Gavin said Father Schuller publicly advances views that diverge very seriously from the Vatican’s teachings.
“The Archdiocese wanted to avoid any confusion about Catholic teaching — especially a priest speaking about Catholic teaching — so we made it very clear that Father Schuller would not be permitted to speak at any parishes or Archdiocesan facilities in the area,” said Gavin.
Regina Bannan is with the Southeastern Pennsylvania Women’s Ordination Conference. The group is one of the three area organzations hosting the controversial priest at Chestnut Hill College, which is a Catholic school run by the Sisters of St. Joseph, not the diocese. Bannan said area Catholics want to engage in dialogue.
“We think Catholics in Philadelphia, priests and laity, are ready to hear a message of the Church from below as he says – that is not the difficult, centralized institution of the past century,” she said. Bannan said it’s time for everyone to be equal and to participate and take responsibility. Bannan said she expects the conversation will be lively and challenging.
After Philadelphia, Rev. Schuller heads to Baltimore to continue his 15-city speaking tour.