ROME, May 10, 2010 ( – The Church should “give more consideration” to “the quality” of homosexual relationships, the cardinal archbishop of Vienna said this weekend. Christoph Schönborn told the far-left British Catholic magazine the Tablet that the Church should also consider allowing divorced and remarried Catholics to receive Communion since “many people don’t even marry at all any longer.”

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

He also declined to comment when asked if the discipline of clerical celibacy is one of the causes of clerical sexual abuse, saying only that psychotherapists are divided on the issue.

Cardinal Schönborn was for a time a favorite among American conservative Catholics for his involvement in the publication of the 1992 Catechism of the Catholic Church and his writing defending the Church on Darwinian evolution, but in recent years his statements and actions have taken some of the bloom off the rose. These have included allowing active and unrepentant homosexuals to be “blessed” in his cathedral on St. Valentine’s day.

In addition, in the spring of 2008, Catholics around the world were outraged when the art gallery attached to St. Stephen’s Cathedral held an exhibit of paintings and sculptures featuring the Last Supper of Christ as a homosexual orgy. The artist, Alfred Hrdlicka, a self-described Stalinist-Marxist atheist who died last year, was buried with Catholic rites in St. Stephen’s Cathedral where some of his sculpture continues to be displayed in a side chapel.

Schönborn’s defiance of ecclesial discipline, however, reached its apogee last June when Pope Benedict called the Austrian bishops to Rome and asked them bluntly to uphold and defend the Catholic faith. At that meeting, he presented Pope Benedict with a petition that he called an “initiative of the lay faithful,” demanding the abolition of compulsory celibacy for priests, the return to ministry of priests who have married, ordination to the diaconate for women, and of married men to the priesthood.

Schönborn told Vatican Radio that day, “Despite the fact that I do not agree with some of the initiative's conclusions, frankly I believe that it is important that people in Rome know what some of our laypeople are thinking.”

Pope Benedict had called that meeting after an open revolt in January of 2008 by some priests of the Austrian diocese of Linz who had refused to accept the pope’s appointment of so-called “ultraconservative” Gerhard Maria Wagner as auxiliary bishop. The Austrian bishops had also previously issued a joint statement condemning the pope’s lifting of the excommunications of four breakaway traditionalist bishops of the Society of St. Pius X.

Schönborn’s remarks to the Tablet also included an attack on the Vatican’s former Cardinal Secretary of State, Angelo Sodano, accusing him of having “deeply wronged” the victims of clerical sexual abuse for having downplayed the sex abuse crisis. At Easter, Sodano, who still serves as the Dean of the college of Cardinals, called the crisis the result of “petty gossip.” Schönborn said the Roman Curia was “urgently in need of reform.”

Sodano served as the Secretary of State, an office likened to that of Prime Minister, through most of the reign of Pope John Paul II. While his influence remains strong in Vatican inner circles, his star has been tarnished recently with the publication of a lengthy article implicating him in the scandals surrounding the Legionaries of Christ and its founder Fr. Marcel Maciel.


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