DAILY CATHOLIC     MONDAY     June 22, 1998     vol. 9, no. 120

NEWS & VIEWS
from a CATHOLIC perspective

To print out entire text of Today's issue, go to SECTION ONE and SECTION TWO

POPE CALLS AUSTRIAN CATHOLICS TO UNITY

          VATICAN (CWNews.com) -- Pope John Paul II arrived in Salzburg, obviouslty tired but just as obviously enthusiastic, today to begin his third pastoral trip to Austria.

          In his first public remarks, delivered in a short address at the airport, the Holy Father did not allude to the controversies that have battered the Church in Austria-- of which the most damaging has been the revelation that Cardinal Hans Hermann Groer, the retired archbishop of Vienna, was involved in the sexual abuse of young men. Instead, the Pope concentrated on Austria's role in the reunification of Europe. He cautioned that in rebuilding a united continent, political leaders must not neglect the spiritual element. The love of God and service to neighbors is more important than money, career, and comfort, he insisted.

          The Pope was greeted by a modest but friendly crowd. Under threatening skies, he encountered hundreds of people carrying banners that read, "Totus tuus." There was only one small, isolated group of protestors, whose signs-- written, significantly, in English, apparently for the benefit of the media-- urged the Pope to "go home."

          Later, in the Salzburg cathedral where Mozart was baptized, the Holy Father urged the faithful to maintain their faith, and uphold their Catholic culture. He warned the Austrian people that religious indifference can be "as dangerous as outright hatred" of the faith.

          The Pope, who came to Salzburg to celebrate the 1200th anniversary of the founding of the diocese, was unusually energetic in his appearance at the cathedral. As we walked down the long aisle, greeted by loud applause, he wore a broad smile, and stopped frequently to greet young children.

          In his homily, the Pope did not shrink from discussion of the problems that face the Church in Austria-- a country where the population is more than 75 percent Catholic, but where theological dissent and clerical scandal have caused severe divisions. The Holy Father said that he was obliged to come, as the successor to St. Peter, to encourage his brethren in the faith. And he insisted that the teaching office of the Church could not be rejected. "The magisterium is not a human invention," he said. "Christ himself gave us this duty," he continued, in order to ensure that the divine will is accurately conveyed to each passing generation.

          "Do not leave the Church!" the Pope pleaded. "Come back to her, to receive the joyous message, which can enlighten our lives, and even the shadows in our lives."

          John Paul welcomed dialogue within the Church, and recognized the important work of parish pastoral councils. But he also cautioned that there is a "diversity of roles" between priests and lay people. Each must respect the other's role, he said. Together, he continued, clergy and laity face the challenge of reviving and spreading the faith, at a time when indifference has become widespread.

          Before leaving the Salzburg cathedral, the Pope offered a brief message of recognition and thanks to the leaders of other Christian faiths who had joined him for the ceremony.


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June 22, 1998       volume 9, no. 120
NEWS & VIEWS

DAILY CATHOLIC

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