Catholic bishops in Austria have rejected a call by dissident church members for lay people to preside at Mass when parishes have no priests, but the bishops also pledged to maintain a dialogue over possible changes in churchlife.
Austria's reformist We Are Church movement had asked for lay presiders on Nov. 5, following a "Call to Disobedience" signed last July by 250 of Austria's 4,200 Catholic priests that urged the ordination of women priests and making Communion available to non-Catholics and remarried divorcees.
The bishops said Austria's dioceses were "taking opportunities to innovate" in response to "real and serious problems," and were confident they would "find answers to the questions asked today."
However, the bishops added that the summons to disobedience had "triggered alarm and sadness," and "left many Catholics shaking their heads."
"Some demands allied with this call for disobedience are simply unsustainable -- the call for a Eucharist without the Blessed Sacrament openly breaches the central truth of our Catholic faith," the bishops' conference said in their Nov. 10 reply.