DAILY CATHOLIC     MONDAY     November 23, 1998     vol. 9, no. 229

NEWS & VIEWS
from a CATHOLIC perspective

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POPE CAUTIONS AUSTRIAN BISHOPS ON DIALOGUE

          VATICAN (CWNews.com) -- Pope John Paul II on Friday reminded the bishops of Austria that the process of dialogue requires "a minimum agreement on basics." That reminder comes shortly after the Austrian bishops held an unprecedented conference with Catholic dissident groups.

          Last June, during a visit to Austria, the Pope alluded to the deep controversies and divisions among Catholics in that country when he mentioned the "urgent" need to establish "a true sense of dialogue within the Church." Any constructive dialogue, the Holy Father emphasized, would be a "spiritual experience" based on a mutual desire to pursue salvation.

          Friday, in a meeting with the Austrian bishops, the Pope returned to that same point, saying that "communion" within the faith is indispensable to any dialogue. He urged the bishops to help their faithful develop "an ecclesial soul."

          Bishop Johann Weber of Graz, the president of the Austrian bishops' conference, later told reporters that he considered the Pope's remarks as "positive" in tone. The only clearly negative remark came when the Holy Father reiterated the teaching that women cannot be ordained to the priesthood, Bishop Weber said.

          In their unique "Dialogue for Austria" late in October, the Austrian bishops joined representatives of various Catholic groups and dissent organizations in endorsing a series of statements about the life of the Church. Several of those statements-- on issues such as contraception, homosexuality, divorce, and the ordination of women at least to the deaconate-- appeared to challenge Church teachings on the same issues.

          In his remarks Friday, Pope John Paul said that dialogue among Catholics cannot obscure the fundamental reality that the Church is not merely a human community, but also a transcendent mystery-- "a sort of icon of the Holy Trinity"-- engaged in the divine plan for salvation. He insisted that all dialogue must be based on that understanding.


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Nov 23, 1998       volume 9, no. 229
NEWS & VIEWS

DAILY CATHOLIC

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