[For background, see previous post: The crisis of the Church is a crisis of Bishops - The Vienna Chronicles: another priest thrown under the bus. Thanks to our reader-translator, who added his own relevant note in the end.]
Press statement of Archbishop Christoph Cardinal Schönborn on the parish council elections in Stützenhofen.
I thank the many candidates for the parish council elections. By their candidacy they showed their concern for the Church and the Faith. Thus they witness to the vitality of the Church. In their diversity they reflect the diversity of the life and faith journeys of today. Thus there are many parish councilors whose lifestyle does not in every way conform to the ideals of the Church. In view of the life-witness that each of them gives taken as a whole, and their commitment to the attempt to live a life of faith, the Church rejoices in their efforts. She does not thereby call the validity of her ideals into question.
In the small community of Stützenhofen, which I hold in great esteem, there is lively participation in Church life even in the younger generation. A sign of this is the high turnout the parish council elections. The formal errors which have come to light in that election do not call the results of the election itself (in which the youngest candidate, Florian Stangl, received the most votes) into question.
I was able to have a personal conversation with Herr Stangl, and was deeply impressed by his faithful disposition, his humility, and the way in which he lives his commitment to service. I can therefore understand why the inhabitants of Stützenhofen voted so decidedly for his participation in the parish council.
Today in the bishop’s council [Bischofsrat] we discussed the complex Stützenhofen case, and unanimously decided on the following decisions:
1. The diocesan leadership does not challenge the validity of the election and its results.
2. The bishop’s council mandates a revision of the rules for parish council elections in order to clarify the pre-requisites for candidacy in the context of continuing deliberation about the nature and purpose of parish councils.
Translator's note: candidates for parish councils in the Archdiocese of Vienna can be nominated by any Catholic before the election. The nominations are supposed to enclose a signed statement by the candidates in which they affirm that they fulfill the conditions for the office (including crucially the condition that they adhere to the faith and discipline of the Church - “sich zur Glaubenslehre und Ordnung der Kirche bekennen”). At the election voters mark as many names on the candidate list as there are places to be taken in the council; the candidates with the most votes are elected. In Stützenhofen the candidates neglected to sign statements affirming that they fulfilled the conditions for election. Herr Stangl, the candidate with the most votes, lives in a civil-partnership with his homosexual lover. An initial statement of the Archdiocese said that “in principle” persons who live in such unions are not allowed to serve on parish councils, but that the Archdiocese was examining the particularities of the case in question. In an interview Herr Stangl said “I feel committed to the teachings of the Church. But the demand to live chastely seems kind of unrealistic to me (Forderungen nach Keuschheit zu stellen, ist aber relativ fern von der Lebensrealität). How many people really live chastely?”
As we had said in 2009: "The Cardinal of Vienna: a man who is tough when it counts."